a-, ab-, abs-

(Latin: prefix; from, away, away from)


This prefix is normally used with elements of Latin and French origins (abs- usually joins elements beginning with c, q, or t).

The form ab- is regularly used before all vowels and h; and it becomes a- before the consonants m, p, and v. The prefix apo- has similar meanings.

This list is a very small sample of the multitudes of a-, ab-, abs- prefixes that are available in dictionaries and those in this unit are only meant to present a few examples.



You can greatly expand your word knowledge in this
and in all of the other word units.

abstemious (adjective), more abstemious, most abstemious
1. Relating to being moderate or not excessive when eating and drinking; being sober, temperate; and not being too self-indulgent: Ted's family ate abstemious meals in order to cut down on their overweight conditions.

Abstemious people restrict themselves to the bare necessities of life and prefer an austere, simple, or unassuming lifestyle.

2. Etymology: abs-, ab-, "from, away from" + temetum, "intoxicating drink, mead, wine".
Moderate and sparing in the use of food and drink; being temperate.
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abstention (s) (noun), abstentions (pl)
1. Voluntarily doing without something: Susan's abstention from chocolate was a choice she made because it was causing skin problems.
2. A refusal to vote either for or against a proposal: The committee vote resulted in five ayes, ten nays, and four abstentions.
3. The deliberate choice of not doing something: The abstention by the mayor during the vote resulted in the proposal being defeated.
absterge (verb), absterges; absterged; absterging
1. To wipe or to make clean: Tom and Jerry were absterging the car before the family started on their trip.
2. To cleanse; hence, to purge: Rebecca, the nurse, absterged Manfred's wound with disinfectants and a special lotion.
abstinence (s) (noun), abstinences (pl)
1.The action or process of voluntarily refraining from some behavior, or practice; self-control: While trying to lose weight, Steve's sister practiced abstinence from excessive red meat and junk food; instead, she ate a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains all of which made her feel better and even look better.
2. The practice of not doing or having something that is wanted or enjoyable: Jeremy started to drink again after a long period of total abstinence from alcohol consumption.

Abstinence may refer to denial of certain foods and drinks thought to be harmful to a person's health; however, it can also refer to refraining from behavior that is considered immoral.

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Go to this Word A Day Revisited Index
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abstinent (s) (noun), abstinents (pl)
A person who is self-restraining; not indulging with one's appetite; especially, for food or drink: As an abstinent, Greg, the coach, was described as a role model for the players on the football team.
abstinent (adjective), more abstinent, most abstinent
A reference to or descriptive of anyone who is self-restraining; not indulging an appetite; especially, for food or drink: The abstinent qualities of Audrey's aunt were much admired by her friends and relatives.
abstinently (adverb), more abstinently, most abstinently
A reference to the restraint of someone's appetites or desires: Russell abstinently practiced self-denial so he could provide for his family's needs.
abstistic (adjective), more abstistic, most abstistic
1. A reference to all conversation, writing, and argument that bases itself on theoretical principles, positions, political persuasions; on data that is devoid of the heart, voice, poetry, or ideology rather than experience: The essay was an abstistic model of nothing but heartless ideology and statistics.
2. Etymology: from abstract, meaning "disembodied, divorced from being perceived by the senses or the mind or being handled or touched or felt" + statistic, "facts that describe a situation".
abstract (s) (noun), abstracts (pl)
1. Not concrete; not relating to real objects but expressing something that can only be appreciated intellectually: The scientific abstract that was published was very academic and challenging.
2. Not easy to understand; based on general principles or theories rather than on specific instances: The abstract about light absorption was understood by very few people and so it was read exclusively by a select group.
3. A brief statement of the essential thoughts of a book, article, speech, court record, etc.: The clerk will prepare an abstract for the judge to read.
4. A summary of a longer text, especially of an academic article: The students were instructed to write short abstracts summarizing the main points in the article that was presented to them.
5. A concept or term that does not refer to a concrete object but denotes a quality, emotion, or idea; such as, truth, love, hate, etc.: The aria from the opera emoted on the abstracts of love, hate, and revenge.
6. Existing only in the mind; separated from embodiment: Clarence referred to abstracts like "truth" and "justice".
7. A work of art, especially a painting, in a style that expresses the artist’s ideas or feelings instead of showing the exact appearance of people or things; not representing or imitating external reality or the objects of nature: The artist's style of painting could only be described as abstract; because it was so difficult to understand.
8. Etymology: the word abstract was formed from two Latin word parts, ab-, "off, away from" + tract, "to draw, to pull".

Abstract originally meant "drawn" or "taken from"; such as, part of a text taken or abstracted from a larger piece of writing. Then abstract came to mean "difficult to understand" or "pulled away from easy understanding".

Later in the late 1800's, the word's meaning changed to a reference to a new artistic style; that is, abstract art when it suggested that the artists' pulled away from reality and were more concerned with presenting forms and ideas than in representing actual people and things.

abstract (verb), abstracts; abstracted; abstracting
1. To take away; to remove without permission; to filch, to steal: While the thieves were in Dawson's house, they found and abstracted money, jewelry, and a computer from his residence.
2. To write a short summary of a speech, report, or other piece of writing: Einstein's theory of relativity is said to be abstracted from data gathered in several scientific experiments.
abstractedly (adverb), more abstractedly, most abstractedly
In an absentminded or preoccupied manner: Lorraine abstractedly answered the question as if her words were the beginning of a train of thought that were too fast to be expressed in normal speech.
abstractedness (s) (noun) (no plural)
A preoccupation with something to the exclusion of other things: Alan's abstractedness indicated a condition of deep absorption or thoughtfulness about other matters.
abstraction (s) (noun), abstractions (pl)
1. An idea or a way of thinking that is not related to real situations or practical experiences: The professor told his class that in some cases, "beauty" and "truth" were simply abstractions.
2. An emotional or mental condition that takes a person's attention from what is happening around him or her: Mildred was looking out of the classroom window in abstraction as she was thinking about her sick mother during the teacher's presentation.
3. The act of obtaining or removing something from a source: Dr. Black read an abstraction of the patient's data from the hospital records.
abstractionism (s) (noun), abstractionism (pl)
Artistic content that depends more on internal form rather than pictorial representation: The student artist was told that abstractionism was simply a representation that had no particular reference to concrete objects or specific examples.
abstractionist (s) (noun), abstractionists (pl)
1. An artist who paints or creates art that expresses ideas and emotions by using elements of colors and lines without attempting to create a realistic picture: Lawrence's sister was a well-known abstractionist who was very creative with her unique forms and the blending of colors in her artistic endeavors.
2. Those who do not represent or imitate external reality or the objects of nature: The abstractionists were criticized for not presenting realistic ideas for improving the parks, streets, and other aspects of the city that had been deteriorating for years.