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[ab-stee-mee-uh s] /æbˈsti mi əs/
sparing or moderate in eating and drinking; temperate in diet.
characterized by abstinence:
an abstemious life.
an abstemious diet.
Origin of abstemious
1615-25; < Latin abstēmius, equivalent to abs- abs- + tēm- (base of tēmētum intoxicating drink) + -ius -ious
Related forms
abstemiously, adverb
abstemiousness, noun
nonabstemious, adjective
nonabstemiously, adverb
nonabstemiousness, noun
overabstemious, adjective
overabstemiously, adverb
overabstemiousness, noun
unabstemious, adjective
unabstemiously, adverb
unabstemiousness, noun
ascetic, abstinent, temperate, nonindulgent. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for abstemious
  • Smokers tend to die younger than do their abstemious peers, by nearly a decade.
  • His energy and optimism were a tribute, perhaps, to the abstemious life he advocated.
  • The mix-and-match offerings will satisfy both the abstemious snacker and the diner hungry for a full meal.
  • It is one of the ways the government hopes to lure tourists from the rest of the generally abstemious region.
  • She is spendthrift whilst he is abstemious.
  • He is a consummate horseman and a dead shot with the pistol; a spare eater and abstemious in his habits.
  • If he had known this would happen, he said, he would have lived a less abstemious life.
  • Next I thought about adding a rich, decadent element to keep the salad from veering into abstemious territory.
  • But the candidate is boringly abstemious — and reporters traveling with him find him aloof.
  • For a man who trafficked in excess, he was surprisingly abstemious.
British Dictionary definitions for abstemious


moderate or sparing, esp in the consumption of alcohol or food; temperate
Derived Forms
abstemiously, adverb
abstemiousness, noun
Word Origin
C17: from Latin abstēmius, from abs-ab-1 + tēm-, from tēmētum intoxicating drink
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for abstemious

c.1600, from Latin abstemius "sober, temperate," from ab(s)- "from" (see ab-) + stem of temetum "strong drink," related to temulentus "drunken." Technically, of liquor, but extended in Latin to temperance in living generally. Related: Abstemiously; abstemiousness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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