ab·stain (ăb-stān, əb-)
intr.v. ab·stained, ab·stain·ing, ab·stains
1. To keep oneself from doing, engaging in, or partaking of something; refrain: abstain from partisan political rhetoric; abstain from drinking alcohol.
2. To refrain from voting: Forty senators voted in favor of the bill, 45 voted against it, and 15 abstained.
[Middle English absteinen, to avoid, from Old French abstenir, from Latin abstinēre, to hold back : abs-, ab-, away; see AB-1 + tenēre, to hold; see ten- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2019 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.