Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
- First attested around 1380.
- From Middle English abstene, absteine, absteynen, absteinen, abstenen, from Old French astenir, abstenir, from Latin abstineō (“to hold oneself back”) from abs- (“from”) + (tineō (“hold”), from teneō (“I hold”)).
- See tenable.
- (transitive, reflexive, obsolete) Keep or withhold oneself. [Attested from around 1350 to 1470 until the mid 16th century.]
- (intransitive) Refrain from (something); hold one's self aloof; to forbear or keep from doing, especially an indulgence of the passions or appetites. [First attested around 1350 to 1470.]
- Who abstains from meat that is not gaunt? - Shakespeare, Richard II, II-i
- (intransitive, obsolete) Fast. [First attested around 1350 to 1470.]
- (intransitive) Deliberately refrain from casting one's vote at a meeting where one is present. [First attested around 1350 to 1470.]
- Not a few abstained from voting. - Thomas Babington Macaulay
- (transitive, obsolete) Hinder; keep back; withhold. [Attested from the early 16th century until the mid 17th century.]
- Whether he abstain men from marying [sic]. - John Milton
Usage notes 
- (keep or withhold oneself): Followed by the word from or of.
- (refrain from something): Followed by the word from.
Derived terms 
Related terms 
refrain from voting
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Translations to be checked
- 2003 , Brown, Lesley editor, The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, edition 5th, Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0-19-860575-7, page 9: