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

Example Sentences

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 See More
Recent Examples on the Web
Verb
But Stewart’s injury, for which he was ruled out at halftime, forced Casey to abandon the two-big rotation once again. Detroit Free Press, 15 Nov. 2022 Just weeks after Putin declared the Kherson region a part of Russia forever, his troops were forced to abandon its capital city, their third major retreat in the war. Marc Santora, BostonGlobe.com, 12 Nov. 2022 Kansas City was forced to abandon the run against Tennessee — Patrick Mahomes threw the ball 68 times — but six of its nine remaining opponents have losing records, which should lead to favorable game scripts for the run game. San Diego Union-Tribune, 10 Nov. 2022 Japan is a particular concern for investors, who worry that its central bank will ultimately be forced to abandon its policy of keeping longer-term interest rates near zero. Sam Goldfarb, WSJ, 29 Sep. 2022 But dwindling supplies and an outbreak of cholera forced the defenders to abandon their posts after one of the longest sieges in medieval history. WIRED, 29 Sep. 2022 After the measure failed to pass the NRB in February, the DNR was forced to abandon it. Laura Schulte, Journal Sentinel, 15 Sep. 2022 As heat waves, wildfires, floods, water shortages, and droughts ravage the country, Republicans have been forced to abandon climate denial. Liza Featherstone, The New Republic, 13 Sep. 2022 Instead, Ukrainian forces recaptured Gostomel, forced Russia to abandon its march on Kyiv, and recast the war as a long, hard war of attrition in the country’s east. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, 12 Sep. 2022
Noun
Long gone is the commodities boom that allowed Lula and others to spend with abandon. Los Angeles Times, 3 Nov. 2022 The landmark book argued that people with money tend to reproduce with abandon, and this is a mistake. WIRED, 26 Oct. 2022 On first listen, Homosexual (out Friday through Powdered Sugar Productions) sounds like an ecstatic nostalgia trip — diving into early-2000s dance-pop with wild abandon, Hayes sounds like a man pursuing escapism in its purest, queerest form. Stephen Daw, Billboard, 6 Oct. 2022 Her dancing in that show, as in each of her performances, had the precision and dynamism of a lifelong performing arts kid who stopped formal training just before conservatory programs could overwrite her natural inclination toward wild abandon. New York Times, 23 Nov. 2021 Attending the live jazz performances at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and dancing with wild abandon. Los Angeles Times, 2 July 2021 The view of the Alaska Range, the joyous feeling of wind on my cheeks, and a buoyant sensation of wild abandon are forever stitched in my memory as the perfect bookend to a perfect day in the park. Emily Pennington, Outside Online, 24 May 2021 The vibe at Portola was an extension fo this Bar Area vibe, with the crowd demonstrating a sort of groovy, unpretentious looseness (i.e. everyone dancing their asses off with joyful abandon) not always experienced at festivals elsewhere. Katie Bain, Billboard, 26 Sep. 2022 Tourists itching to go to Japan may not be able to pack their bags with complete carefree abandon yet. Jacky Wong, WSJ, 1 Sep. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'abandon.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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 28 Nov. 2022.

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

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