abstain
\ \ [14] The literal meaning of this word’s ultimate source, Latin abstinēre, was ‘hold or keep away’, and hence ‘withhold’ (the root verb, tenēre, produced many other derivatives in English, such as contain, maintain, obtain, and retain, as well as tenacious, tenant, tenement, tenet, tenor, and tenure). That is how it was used when it was first introduced into English (via Old French abstenir), and it was not until the 16th century that it began to be used more specifically for refraining from pleasurable activities, particularly the drinking of alcohol.
\ \ The past participial stem of the Latin verb, abstent-, gave us abstention, while the present participial stem, abstinent-, produced abstinent and abstinence. There is no connection, incidentally, with the semantically similar abstemious, which comes from a Latin word for alcoholic drink, tēmōtum.

Word origins - 2ed. . 2005.

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  • abstain — ab·stain /əb stān, ab / vi: to refrain from exercising federal jurisdiction over a case: cause an abstention Merriam Webster’s Dictionary of Law. Merriam Webster. 1996. abstain …   Law dictionary

  • Abstain — Ab*stain , v. t. To hinder; to withhold. [1913 Webster] Whether he abstain men from marrying. Milton. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • abstain — (v.) late 14c., to withhold oneself, from O.Fr. abstenir (14c.), earlier astenir (13c.) hold (oneself) back, refrain, abstain (from), practice abstinence, from L. abstinere withhold, keep back, keep off, from ab(s) from, away from (see AB (Cf. ab …   Etymology dictionary

  • abstain — [ab stān′, əbstān′] vi. [ME absteinen < OFr abstenir < L abstinere, to hold back < ab(s) , from + tenere, to hold: see TENANT] to hold oneself back; voluntarily do without; refrain (from) [to abstain from smoking] SYN. REFRAIN1 abstainer …   English World dictionary

  • Abstain — Ab*stain , v. i. [imp. & p. p. {Abstained}; p. pr. & vb. n. {Abstaining}.] [OE. absteynen, abstenen, OF. astenir, abstenir, F. abstenir, fr. L. abstinere, abstentum, v. t. & v. i., to keep from; ab, abs + tenere to hold. See {Tenable}.] To hold… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • abstain — *refrain, forbear Analogous words: *forgo, eschew, abnegate: *decline, refuse, spurn, reject: desist (see STOP) Antonyms: indulge Contrasted words: pamper (see INDULGE): *satiate …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

  • abstain — [v] hold back from doing abjure, abnegate, avoid, cease, constrain, curb, decline, deny oneself, do without, eschew, evade, fast, fence sit*, forbear, forgo, give the go by*, give up, go on the wagon*, keep from, pass, pass up, quit, refrain,… …   New thesaurus

  • abstain — ► VERB 1) restrain oneself from doing or indulging in something. 2) formally choose not to vote. DERIVATIVES abstainer noun. ORIGIN Latin abstinere hold from …   English terms dictionary

  • abstain — UK [əbˈsteɪn] / US verb [intransitive] Word forms abstain : present tense I/you/we/they abstain he/she/it abstains present participle abstaining past tense abstained past participle abstained 1) a) to deliberately avoid doing something that is… …   English dictionary

  • abstain — v. (D; intr.) to abstain from (to abstain from alcohol) * * * [əb steɪn] (D; intr.) to abstain from (to abstain from alcohol) …   Combinatory dictionary

  • abstain — [[t]æbste͟ɪn[/t]] abstains, abstaining, abstained 1) VERB If you abstain from something, usually something you want to do, you deliberately do not do it. [FORMAL] [V from n] Abstain from sex or use condoms... Do you drink alcohol, smoke, or… …   English dictionary

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