abandon

1 of 2

verb

aban·​don ə-ˈban-dən How to pronounce abandon (audio)
abandoned; abandoning; abandons

transitive verb

1
a
: to give up to the control or influence of another person or agent
b
: to give up with the intent of never again claiming a right or interest in
abandon property
2
: to withdraw from often in the face of danger or encroachment
abandon ship
soldiers forced to abandon their position
3
: to withdraw protection, support, or help from
he abandoned his family
4
: to give (oneself) over unrestrainedly
abandoned himself to a life of self-indulgence
5
a
: to cease from maintaining, practicing, or using
abandoned their native language
b
: to cease intending or attempting to perform
abandoned the escape
abandoner noun

abandon

2 of 2

noun

: a thorough yielding to natural impulses
especially : enthusiasm, exuberance
with reckless abandon

Did you know?

You may associate this word with the act of leaving and never returning, given the familiarity of the verb abandon. But the noun abandon, with its more pleasant connotations of freedom, is likely here to stay despite being a relative newcomer. It only entered the English language in the early 1800s, as a borrowing from French that goes back to an Old French word meaning “surrender.” (English had borrowed the verb abandon centuries before from the French speakers living in medieval England.) Louisa May Alcott recognized the word's utility; she used it of Jo in Little Women, writing that “when the writing fit came on, she gave herself up to it with entire abandon, and led a blissful life, unconscious of want, care, or bad weather ...”

Choose the Right Synonym for abandon

abandon, desert, forsake mean to leave without intending to return.

abandon suggests that the thing or person left may be helpless without protection.

abandoned children

desert implies that the object left may be weakened but not destroyed by one's absence.

a deserted town

forsake suggests an action more likely to bring impoverishment or bereavement to that which is forsaken than its exposure to physical dangers.

a forsaken lover

synonyms see in addition relinquish

Examples of abandon in a Sentence

Verb They abandoned the car on a back road. That house was abandoned years ago. The approaching fire forced hundreds of people to abandon their homes. The officer refused to abandon his post. The policy abandons the most vulnerable members of society. She abandoned the party not long after the election. Noun added spices to the stew with complete abandon
Recent Examples on the Web
Verb
Trump abandoned plans to add a citizenship question to the census after a multistate lawsuit that included California. Noah Bierman, Los Angeles Times, 10 May 2024 This is the view of both Swiss advocates of closer cooperation with Western powers and nationalist opponents who say Switzerland is abandoning its neutral tradition and should limit the scope for foreign entanglements. Fox News, 10 May 2024 See all Example Sentences for abandon 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'abandon.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Verb

Middle English abandounen, borrowed from Anglo-French abanduner, derivative of abandun "surrender, abandonment," from the phrase a bandun "in one's power, at one's disposal," from a "at, to" (going back to Latin ad "to") + bandun "jurisdiction," going back to a Gallo-Romance derivative of Old Low Franconian *bann- "summons, command" (with -d- probably from outcomes of Germanic *bandwō "sign") — more at at entry 1, ban entry 1, banner entry 1

Noun

borrowed from French, in part derivative of abandonner "to abandon," in part going back to Old French abandon, abandun "surrender" — more at abandon entry 1

First Known Use

Verb

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Noun

1815, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of abandon was in the 14th century

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Dictionary Entries Near abandon

Cite this Entry

“Abandon.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/abandon. Accessed 21 May. 2024.

Kids Definition

abandon

1 of 2 verb
aban·​don ə-ˈban-dən How to pronounce abandon (audio)
1
: to give up completely
2
: to withdraw from often in the face of danger
abandon ship
3
: to withdraw protection, support, or help from
abandoned the dog
4
: to give oneself up to an emotion
abandoner noun
abandonment noun

abandon

2 of 2 noun
: a complete yielding to natural impulses

Legal Definition

abandon

transitive verb
aban·​don
1
: to give up with the intent of never again asserting or claiming an interest in (a right or property)
2
: to disassociate oneself from or forsake in spite of a duty or responsibility to
abandon one's child
3
: to renounce one's obligations and rights under
abandon a contract
4
: to fail purposely to bring to completion or fruition
abandon a crime
abandon a lawsuit

More from Merriam-Webster on abandon

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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