verb used without object
1. to hold oneself back voluntarily, especially from something regarded as improper or unhealthy (usually followed by from): to abstain from eating meat.
2. to refrain from casting one's vote: a referendum in which two delegates abstained.
o·ver·ab·stain, verb (used without object)
quit, renounce, refrain, withhold, forgo, cease, shun, forbear, decline, refuse, spurn, avoid, eschew, stop, fast, abjure, curb, evade, pass, constrain
See more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
1. forbear; desist, cease.
Origin: 1350–1400; Middle English abste(i)nen < Middle French abstenir ≪ Latin abstinēre, equivalent to abs- abs- + -tinēre, combining form of tenēre to hold, keep
EXAMPLES FROM THE WEB FOR ABSTAIN
In fact, I publicly vowed to abstain from The Ball in 2012, but professional responsibilities and curiosity got the better of me.
THE CRAZIEST DATE NIGHT FOR SINGLE JEWS, WHERE MISTLETOE IS DITCHED FOR SHOTS|EMILY SHIRE|DECEMBER 26, 2014|DAILY BEAST
But the two also could abstain from caucusing with either party and possibly have even more clout.
THE INDEPENDENTS WHO COULD TIP THE SENATE IN NOVEMBER|LINDA KILLIAN|OCTOBER 13, 2014|DAILY BEAST
So is everyone around you, even if you find a way to abstain.
KEEP OUR WILDERNESS OFF OF WI-FI|MICHAEL SCHULSON|SEPTEMBER 3, 2014|DAILY BEAST
Pollsters have been predicting disillusioned leftist voters are particularly likely to abstain.
SARKOZY’S SURVEILLANCE SCANDAL|TRACY MCNICOLL|MARCH 22, 2014|DAILY BEAST
Some especially well-bred people among us might be noble enough in spirit and possessions to abstain from this temptation.
THE NEXT PRESIDENT WON’T SAVE US|JAMES POULOS|DECEMBER 18, 2013|DAILY BEAST
Prussia will abstain from hostilities for five days, during which Austria will have to notify acceptance of preliminaries.
THE STORY OF THE ATLANTIC TELEGRAPH|HENRY M. (HENRY MARTYN) FIELD
By the many chances of war, I have learned when it is proper to fight, when to abstain from fighting.
THE HISTORY OF ROME, BOOKS 37 TO THE END|TITUS LIVIUS
After passing his fiftieth year an individual should abstain from venesection.
OLD-TIME MAKERS OF MEDICINE|JAMES J. WALSH
Did they abstain from even exhorting masters to emancipate their slaves, though an imperative duty, from fear of consequences?
COTTON IS KING AND THE PRO-SLAVERY ARGUMENTS|VARIOUS
Knowing the law, and being perhaps a respectable, religious person, he is anxious to abstain from all appearance of evil.
A SHEPHERD'S LIFE|W. H. HUDSON