from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun Voluntary control over urinary and fecal discharge.
  • noun Self-restraint, especially abstinence from sexual intercourse. synonym: abstinence.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun In general, self-restraint with regard to desires and passions; self-command.
  • noun In a special sense, the restraint of the sexual passion within due bounds, whether absolute, as in celibacy, or within lawful limits, as in marriage; chastity.
  • noun Capacity for holding or containing: as, a measure which has only one half the continence of another. Continuity; uninterrupted course.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun Self-restraint; self-command.
  • noun The restraint which a person imposes upon his desires and passions; the act or power of refraining from indulgence of the sexual appetite, esp. from unlawful indulgence; sometimes, moderation in sexual indulgence.
  • noun obsolete Uninterrupted course; continuity.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun The voluntary control of urination and defecation.
  • noun Moderation or self-restraint, especially in sexual activity; abstinence.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun voluntary control over urinary and fecal discharge
  • noun the exercise of self constraint in sexual matters


from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Dated from the 14th Century CE; from Old French continence, from Latin continentia ("a repression").


Help support Wordnik (and make this page ad-free) by adopting the word continence.



Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • "Give me chastity and continence, but not yet." -- St. Augustine

    March 2, 2009