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


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