Blame is a verb which is applied to a person without that person's choice, so can they use a verb like 'abstain' in terms of blame if abstain implies they are choosing a relationship to that blame?

I don't believe you can 'abstain from blame' - if so, is blame a verb that can cancel out other verbs?

If a person chooses not to accept blame, is that the same as abstaining from it?

  • FYI, blame is also a noun. – MrHen Jul 13 '11 at 3:55

You can abstain from blaming someone, but you can't abstain from blame if someone else blames you. This is because you can only abstain from things that you might do or enjoy, From NOAD:

abstain |abˈstān| verb [ intrans. ] 1 restrain oneself from doing or enjoying something : abstaining from chocolate.

What you can do is reject such blame, or fail to accept or acknowledge it.

  • But I don't enjoy voting, yet I can abstain from it? – Amelia Schmidt Jul 13 '11 at 3:41
  • @Amelia: "Doing" was part of the definition; voting is something you do. – MrHen Jul 13 '11 at 3:56
  • In some jurisdictions voting is compulsory, so technically you can't abstain. But, where it's not compulsory, you can certainly abstain -- perhaps as a protest, to point out that you don't think much of any candidate. – pavium Jul 13 '11 at 4:08
  • The point is that you can only abstain from something in which you have a choice to do or not do it. You cannot choose to not be blamed; that choice is someone else's. Good answer by Robusto, as always. – KeithS Jul 13 '11 at 15:05

I don't know if I am stretching the meaning too far, but when Pontius Pilate washed his hands (according to the Bible) he was, in a sense, abstaining from the blame for Jesus Christ's crucifixion.

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