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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
Historical Examples
  • For this they work most energetically; living in the most abstemious manner, in order that they may not break into their hoard.

    A Tramp's Wallet William Duthie
  • He was however naturally of an abstemious and recluse disposition.

    Imogen William Godwin
  • My father was an abstemious man, and although invited to stop and liquor, declined doing so.

    With Axe and Rifle W.H.G. Kingston
  • For several years he was so abstemious that he had eaten but one meal a day.

    Henry IV, Makers of History John S. C. Abbott
  • Indeed he was no match for Commendone, with his long training, and clean, abstemious life.

    House of Torment Cyril Arthur Edward Ranger Gull
  • All through their lives they should be most careful and abstemious in their diet.

  • And yet, of all men, he was the most abstemious–he could drink or let it alone.

    Shadow Mountain Dane Coolidge
  • This, with good reason, is attributed to their abstemious lives.

  • Chast himself, and requires his Attendants to be so.And as he is abstemious in his eating, so in the use of women.

  • abstemious in herself, and in apparel void of all vain ornaments.

    No Cross, No Crown William Penn
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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