Abstemious vs. Abstentious

What's the Difference?

Abstemious and abstentious are both adjectives that describe someone who exercises self-restraint, particularly in regards to indulging in food or drink. However, abstemious typically refers to someone who is moderate or restrained in their consumption, while abstentious implies a more deliberate and conscious effort to avoid excess or temptation. In essence, abstemious individuals may simply choose to limit their intake, while abstentious individuals actively resist the urge to partake in certain behaviors.


DefinitionCharacterized by moderation, especially in eating and drinkingCharacterized by self-restraint, especially in indulging in pleasures
BehaviorRestrained or moderate in consumptionExhibiting self-control or self-denial
Approach to indulgenceMay indulge occasionally but in moderationAvoids indulgence altogether
FocusPrimarily on moderation and balancePrimarily on self-control and discipline

Further Detail


Abstemious and abstentious are two words that are often used interchangeably, but they actually have distinct meanings. Abstemious refers to someone who exercises self-restraint, especially when it comes to indulging in food or drink. This person may limit their intake of certain substances in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle. On the other hand, abstentious refers to someone who completely avoids or refrains from indulging in certain behaviors or substances altogether. This person may have made a conscious decision to abstain from something for personal, moral, or religious reasons.


Individuals who are abstemious tend to exhibit moderation in their behavior. They may enjoy a glass of wine with dinner, but they will not overindulge to the point of excess. Abstemious individuals are able to enjoy the pleasures of life in a controlled manner, without letting their desires get the best of them. On the other hand, abstentious individuals take a more extreme approach to self-restraint. They may completely avoid certain activities or substances in order to maintain a sense of purity or discipline in their lives.

Health Benefits

Both abstemious and abstentious behaviors can have positive effects on one's health. Abstemious individuals are more likely to maintain a healthy weight, as they are able to control their portion sizes and make mindful choices about what they eat and drink. This can lead to a reduced risk of obesity, heart disease, and other chronic conditions. Abstentious individuals, on the other hand, may experience even greater health benefits by completely avoiding harmful substances such as alcohol or tobacco. This can lead to improved overall health and a decreased risk of addiction or dependency.

Social Implications

Abstemious individuals may find it easier to navigate social situations where food and drink are involved. They are able to enjoy themselves without feeling pressured to overindulge or conform to unhealthy habits. However, abstentious individuals may face more challenges in social settings, as their decision to abstain from certain behaviors may be met with curiosity or even judgment from others. It can be difficult for abstentious individuals to explain their choices to those who do not share the same values or beliefs.

Personal Values

Abstemious individuals often value self-control, discipline, and balance in their lives. They may see moderation as a key component of living a healthy and fulfilling life. Abstemious individuals may also prioritize their physical health and well-being, making conscious choices to support their overall wellness. On the other hand, abstentious individuals may place a higher value on principles such as purity, morality, or spirituality. They may see abstaining from certain behaviors as a way to uphold their personal values and beliefs, even if it means sacrificing certain pleasures or conveniences.


While abstemious and abstentious behaviors may seem similar on the surface, they actually represent two distinct approaches to self-restraint and moderation. Abstemious individuals exercise control and moderation in their behavior, while abstentious individuals take a more extreme approach by completely avoiding certain behaviors or substances. Both behaviors can have positive effects on one's health and well-being, but they may also present unique challenges in social situations and personal relationships. Ultimately, the choice between being abstemious or abstentious comes down to personal values, beliefs, and goals.

Comparisons may contain inaccurate information about people, places, or facts. Please report any issues.