Definition of abstinence in English:



mass noun
  • The practice of restraining oneself from indulging in something, typically alcohol or sex.

    ‘I started drinking again after six years of abstinence’
    ‘abstinence from premarital intercourse’
    • ‘Other than abstinence, having a vasectomy is the most reliable method of contraception.’
    • ‘He's gone six months without, the longest sustained abstinence of his life.’
    • ‘Many people who go on methadone programmes, the softer alternative to abstinence, remain on them for years.’
    • ‘This is presented to those who commit themselves to abstinence for life.’
    • ‘In food matters they sought to maintain an equilibrium between abstinence and indulgence.’
    • ‘How did she quit drinking five years ago, and how did she maintain abstinence for several years?’
    • ‘It is also important to note that most patients reported reduced use rather than abstinence.’
    • ‘I have no problem with someone who wants to promote abstinence.’
    • ‘While abstinence may be a desirable goal for these individuals, not many accomplish it.’
    • ‘On the other side of drunkenness there is a no less committed balance of prohibition and abstinence in England.’
    • ‘A growing lobby, here and in America, preaches abstinence, not education.’
    • ‘For the Hindus the fasting is abstinence from meat during their holy time.’
    • ‘If alcohol is the cause of the heart failure then abstinence is essential.’
    • ‘Outside unprotected sex within marriage he is an advocate of strict abstinence.’
    • ‘After 12 months, the researchers intend to shift the addicts to methadone or abstinence.’
    • ‘The authorities there even advocated sexual abstinence, rather than condom use, as a national health strategy.’
    • ‘These effects disappeared after a period of abstinence from alcohol consumption.’
    • ‘The most effective way to avoid the symptoms of alcohol induced hangover is to practise abstinence or moderation.’
    • ‘The British anti-drink-driving campaigns try to scare you into complete abstinence.’
    • ‘My unplanned and almost month long period of abstinence from alcohol finally came to an end last night, with four gin and tonics.’
    teetotalism, temperance, sobriety, abstemiousness, abstention
    celibacy, chastity, singleness, continence, virginity, bachelorhood, spinsterhood, self-restraint, self-denial
    refraining, desisting, holding back, forbearing, keeping, withholding
    View synonyms


Middle English: from Old French, from Latin abstinentia, from the verb abstinere (see abstain).