Quantcast
Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary

abject

play
adjective ab·ject \ˈab-ˌjekt\

Simple Definition of abject

  • : extremely bad or severe

  • : very humble : feeling or showing shame

  • : very weak : lacking courage or strength

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of abject

  1. 1 :  sunk to or existing in a low state or condition <to lowest pitch of abject fortune thou art fallen — John Milton>

  2. 2 a :  cast down in spirit :  servile, spiritless <a man made abject by suffering> b :  showing hopelessness or resignation <abject surrender>

  3. 3 :  expressing or offered in a humble and often ingratiating spirit <abject flattery> <an abject apology>

abjectly play \ˈab-ˌjek(t)-lē, ab-ˈ\ adverb
abjectness play \-ˌjek(t)-nəs, -ˈjek(t)-\ noun

Examples of abject in a sentence

  1. … the time would come that no human being should be humiliated or be made abject. —Katherine Anne Porter, The Never-Ending Wrong, 1977

  2. … my critical intelligence sometimes shrivels to an abject nodding of the head. —Lewis H. Lapham, Harper's, May 1971

  3. … nothing seemed to have changed at the Beehive across the years. The same pallid employees were visible in the same abject state of peonage, cringing under the whiplash of overseers. —S. J. Perelman, Baby, It's Cold Inside, 1970

  4. They live in abject misery.

  5. He offered an abject apology.

  6. She thought he was an abject coward.



Did You Know?

Abject comes from "abjectus," the past participle of the Latin verb abicere, meaning "to cast off." Its original meaning in English was "cast off" or "rejected," but it is now used to refer more broadly to things in a low state or condition. "Abject" shares with "mean," "ignoble," and "sordid" the sense of being below the normal standards of human decency and dignity. "Abject" may imply degradation, debasement, or servility ("abject poverty"). "Mean" suggests having such repellent characteristics as small-mindedness, ill temper, or cupidity ("mean and petty satire"). "Ignoble" suggests a loss or lack of some essential high quality of mind or spirit ("an ignoble scramble after material possessions"). "Sordid" is stronger than all of these in stressing physical or spiritual degradation and lowness ("a sordid story of murder and revenge").

Origin of abject

Middle English, from Latin abjectus, from past participle of abicere to cast off, from ab- + jacere to throw — more at jet


First Known Use: 15th century

Synonym Discussion of abject

mean, ignoble, abject, sordid mean being below the normal standards of human decency and dignity. mean suggests small-mindedness, ill temper, or cupidity <mean and petty satire>. ignoble suggests a loss or lack of some essential high quality of mind or spirit <an ignoble scramble after material possessions>. abject may imply degradation, debasement, or servility <abject poverty>. sordid is stronger than all of these in stressing physical or spiritual degradation and abjectness <a sordid story of murder and revenge>.

ABJECT Defined for Kids

abject

play
adjective ab·ject \ˈab-ˌjekt\

Definition of abject for Students

  1. 1 :  very bad or severe <abject poverty>

  2. 2 :  low in spirit, strength, or hope <an abject coward>

abjectly adverb <He stared abjectly at his ruined home.>




Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up abject? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

a timid, meek, or unassertive person

Get Word of the Day daily email!

WORD GAMES

Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!

alt-5746713d76276

Which of these is a synonym of nonplus?

disapprove soothe reduce perplex
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ