Someone who's abstinent is moderate and restrained, especially when it comes to consuming food and drink. A person who quits drinking alcohol completely is abstinent.

It's most common to use the adjective abstinent to describe someone who has given up using alcohol or other intoxicants, but you can also use it to talk about a person who's self-restrained in other ways. You might say, "No dessert for me — I'm trying to be abstinent this month!" Abstinent is an Old French word meaning "moderate" or "modest," from the Latin abstinere, "to refrain from."

Definitions of abstinent
  1. adjective
    self-restraining; not indulging an appetite especially for food or drink
    “not totally abstinent but abstemious”
    synonyms: abstentious
    sparing in consumption of especially food and drink
  2. noun
    a person who refrains from drinking intoxicating beverages
    synonyms: abstainer, nondrinker
    see moresee less
    drinker, imbiber, juicer, toper
    a person who drinks alcoholic beverages (especially to excess)
    teetotaler, teetotalist, teetotaller
    a total abstainer
    type of:
    individual, mortal, person, somebody, someone, soul
    a human being
Word Family

Test prep from the experts

Boost your test score with programs developed by Vocabulary.com’s experts.

  • Proven methods: Learn faster, remember longer with our scientific approach.
  • Personalized plan: We customize your experience to maximize your learning.
  • Strategic studying: Focus on the words that are most crucial for success.


  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 8 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week


  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 10 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week


  • Number of words: 700+
  • Duration: 10 weeks
  • Time: 1 hour / week