If you abstain from something, you restrain yourself from consuming it. People usually abstain from things that are considered vices — like eating French fries every day for lunch.

Roots of the word abstain are from the 14th-century French, "to withhold oneself," and the word often refers to people who hold themselves back from indulging in habits that are bad for them, physically or morally. Abstain can also mean to withhold a vote, and sometimes a difficult decision is stalled when government representatives abstain from voting one way or another.

Definitions of abstain
  1. verb
    choose not to partake in or consume
    “I abstain from alcohol”
    synonyms: desist, refrain
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    consume, have, ingest, take, take in
    serve oneself to, or consume regularly
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    abstain from eating
    abstain from certain foods, as for religious or medical reasons
    avoid, keep off
    refrain from certain foods or beverages
    practice teetotalism and abstain from the consumption of alcoholic beverages
    eat sparingly, for health reasons or to lose weight
    follow a regimen or a diet, as for health reasons
  2. verb
    refrain from voting
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    type of:
    forbear, refrain
    resist doing something
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