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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 abstemiousness
Historical Examples
  • True, I've since made call at an hotel, but you don't give me credit for my abstemiousness!

    Gwen Wynn Mayne Reid
  • Of true Puritan abstemiousness, his only indulgence was chewing tobacco.

    The Crisis, Complete Winston Churchill
  • Careless to abstemiousness in her daily habits, it was part of her pride to set a feast before such of her guests as cared for it.

    North and South Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell
  • His abstemiousness is remarkable, and he will not feed during the night.

    The Desert World Arthur Mangin
  • The recluse did not seem to cultivate the duty of abstemiousness, but he maintained silence.

  • I feel that my abstemiousness, implying as it does a jaded palate and an aristocratic indigestion, is highly fashionable.

    Bizarre Lawton Mackall
  • It is asserted that the climate itself induces temperance in drink and abstemiousness in diet.

    Our Italy Charles Dudley Warner
  • At the period to which we refer, the literary society of Edinburgh was by no means distinguished for its abstemiousness.

  • But try as he would this ardent apostle of abstemiousness was unable to put down drinking.

    The Pirates' Who's Who Philip Gosse
  • A striking instance of abstemiousness is that of Cornaro, a Venetian nobleman, who died in the year 1566 at the age of 98.

British Dictionary definitions for abstemiousness


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 abstemiousness



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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