A a


    • US Pronunciation
    • US IPA
    • UK Pronunciation
    • UK IPA
    • [ab-steyn]
    • /æbˈsteɪn/
    • /æbˈsteɪn/
    • US Pronunciation
    • US IPA
    • [ab-steyn]
    • /æbˈsteɪn/

Definitions of abstain word

  • verb abstain If you abstain from something, usually something you want to do, you deliberately do not do it. 3
  • verb abstain If you abstain during a vote, you do not use your vote. 3
  • verb abstain to choose to refrain 3
  • verb abstain to refrain from voting, esp in a committee, legislature, etc 3
  • intransitive verb abstain to hold oneself back; voluntarily do without; refrain (from) 3
  • verb without object abstain to hold oneself back voluntarily, especially from something regarded as improper or unhealthy (usually followed by from): to abstain from eating meat. 1

Information block about the term

Origin of abstain

First appearance:

before 1350
One of the 20% oldest English words
1350-1400; Middle English abste(i)nen < Middle French abstenir ≪ Latin abstinēre, equivalent to abs- abs- + -tinēre, combining form of tenēre to hold, keep

Historical Comparancy

Parts of speech for Abstain


abstain popularity

A common word. It’s meaning is known to most children of preschool age. About 82% of English native speakers know the meaning and use the word.
This word is included in each student's vocabulary. Most likely there is at least one movie with this word in the title.

abstain usage trend in Literature

This diagram is provided by Google Ngram Viewer

Synonyms for abstain

verb abstain

  • quit — to stop, cease, or discontinue: She quit what she was doing to help me paint the house.
  • renounce — to give up or put aside voluntarily: to renounce worldly pleasures.
  • refrain — to abstain from an impulse to say or do something (often followed by from): I refrained from telling him what I thought.
  • withhold — to hold back; restrain or check.
  • forgo — to abstain or refrain from; do without.

Antonyms for abstain

verb abstain

  • use — to employ for some purpose; put into service; make use of: to use a knife.
  • continue — If someone or something continues to do something, they keep doing it and do not stop.
  • do — Informal. a burst of frenzied activity; action; commotion.
  • accept — If you accept something that you have been offered, you say yes to it or agree to take it.
  • allow — If someone is allowed to do something, it is all right for them to do it and they will not get into trouble.

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See also

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