"You canker blossom!" 3 Shakespearean Insults


[ab-sten-shuh n] /æbˈstɛn ʃən/
an act or instance of abstaining.
withholding of a vote.
Origin of abstention
1515-25; < Late Latin abstentiōn- (stem of abstentiō), equivalent to Latin abstent(us), past participle of abstinēre to abstain + -iōn- -ion
Related forms
abstentious, adjective
nonabstention, noun
unabstentious, adjective
Can be confused
abstention, abstinence. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for abstention
  • abstention would be equally effective but less counterproductive.
  • The voting record shows eight in favor, seven against and one abstention.
  • They also suggest that the abstention rate this year may be higher than ever before.
  • The result was five in favor, one opposed and one abstention.
  • The abstention drive comes as the drinking habits of some public figures have raised eyebrows.
  • Both have codes of modesty and urge abstention from smoking and drinking.
  • Now in the final act, she said, she has settled into a kind of weary abstention.
  • If you have an important date in the evening, the only foolproof tactic is abstention.
  • Accordingly, an abstention will have the effect of a negative vote.
  • But acknowledging these realities is not the same as advocating a complete abstention from looking far ahead.
British Dictionary definitions for abstention


a voluntary decision not to act; the act of refraining or abstaining
the act of withholding one's vote
Derived Forms
abstentious, adjective
Word Origin
C16: from Late Latin abstentiōn-, from Latin abstinēre. See abstain
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 abstention

1520s, from Middle French abstention (Old French astencion), from Late Latin abstentionem (nominative abstentio) "the act of retaining," noun of action from past participle stem of abstinere (see abstain).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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