Definition of abstention in English:


See synonyms for abstention

Translate abstention into Spanish


  • 1An instance of declining to vote for or against a proposal or motion.

    ‘a resolution passed by 126 votes to none, with six abstentions’
    • ‘A motion passed overwhelmingly with no votes against and two abstentions was proposed jointly by Labour and the Conservatives.’
    • ‘A show of hands resulted in 11 people voting to bring back the bells, with one vote against and six abstentions.’
    • ‘This time the vote was 120 to 98, with six abstentions.’
    • ‘Following several hours of debates, a council vote to accept the plan was passed by 29 in favour with four votes against and 20 abstentions.’
    • ‘The resolution was backed by 22 of the 35 members of the IAEA's governing board, with 12 abstentions and one vote against.’
    • ‘The amendment was approved with 65 votes for, 13 votes against and 22 abstentions.’
    • ‘According to Stankushev the ratio between the number of votes and abstentions showed the ratio between fear and conscience.’
    • ‘There were seven abstentions and just four voted in favour of the plan.’
    • ‘Since the vote was held in secret, it is impossible to say from which part of the government camp the 51 ‘no’ votes and abstentions came.’
    • ‘There were two abstentions and one invalid vote.’
    • ‘Therefore, of 300 total seats, only 75 votes or abstentions would be required to block constitutional reform.’
    • ‘They could not make up their minds, so they voted eight abstentions.’
    • ‘The growing tide of abstentions and protest votes for the extreme right and the extreme left are other signs of disarray and dismay.’
    • ‘The US will therefore be able to find a majority of positive votes with a few abstentions.’
    • ‘Four of those six abstentions were members of the Latino Caucus, including its chairman, Marco Antonio Firebaugh.’
    • ‘The rebellion, small on the scale of recent backbench protests and partly because of Labour reluctance to back a Liberal Democrat motion, masked considerable Labour abstentions.’
    • ‘The senate vote recorded 25 in favour 16 opposed and 10 abstentions.’
    • ‘Voters in the cities, like Harare and Bulawayo, voted No by three to one, whilst in the rural heartlands that were expected to vote Yes there were widespread abstentions.’
    • ‘Indeed, this pattern of fierce and prolonged debate, followed by a vote with a large number of abstentions, was a remarkable feature of debates in the ISG.’
    • ‘The lopsided vote for Libya, including all those cowardly European abstentions, speaks volumes about the UN's character.’
    refusal to vote, abstaining, non-voting
    View synonyms
  • 2The fact or practice of restraining oneself from indulging in something; abstinence.

    ‘alcohol consumption versus abstention’
    • ‘But again, this would only be true if Crusoe's saving - i.e. his abstention from possible present consumption - had been channeled into investment in such tools.’
    • ‘The disquieting voices of the few people who doubted that complete abstention was achievable for most problematic consumers were drowned out in a sea of treatment optimism.’
    • ‘Existing treatments for alcoholism tend to concentrate either on abstention - sometimes aided by drugs - or the use of aversion therapy, such as drugs that make you ill if you drink.’
    • ‘They started by studying men and women at all levels of drinking from abstention to those in detox for full-blown alcohol problems.’
    • ‘Fasting or abstention from sex is a cakewalk compared to it.’
    teetotalism, temperance, sobriety, abstemiousness, abstinence
    celibacy, chastity, singleness, continence, virginity, abstinence, self-restraint, self-denial, bachelorhood, spinsterhood
    View synonyms



/əbˈsten(t)SH(ə)n/ /əbˈstɛn(t)ʃ(ə)n/


Early 16th century (denoting the action of keeping back or restraining): from late Latin abstentio(n-), from the verb abstinere (see abstain).