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 also tenable.
- (transitive, reflexive, obsolete) Keep or withhold oneself. [Attested from around 1350 to 1470 until the mid 16th century.]
- (intransitive) Refrain from (something); hold oneself aloof; to forbear or keep from doing, especially an indulgence of the passions or appetites. [First attested around 1350 to 1470.]
(Can we date this quote?), Shakespeare, Richard II, II-i:
- Who abstains from meat that is not gaunt?
- (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.]
- (transitive, obsolete) Hinder; keep back; withhold. [Attested from the early 16th century until the mid 17th century.]
- (keep or withhold oneself): Followed by the word from or of.
- (refrain from something): Followed by the word from.
- The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout#Translations.
- “abstain” in Lesley Brown, editor-in-chief; William R. Trumble and Angus Stevenson, editors, The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary on Historical Principles, 5th edition, Oxford; New York, N.Y.: Oxford University Press, 2002, ISBN 978-0-19-860457-0, page 9.