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

Definition of abandon

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1a : 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
5a : to cease from maintaining, practicing, or using abandoned their native language
b : to cease intending or attempting to perform abandoned the escape



Definition of abandon (Entry 2 of 2)

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

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Other Words from abandon


abandoner noun

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


abandon, desert, and forsake mean to give up completely. abandon is used when someone has no interest in what happens to the person or thing he or she has given up. She abandoned the wrecked car on the side of the road. desert is used when a person leaves something to which he or she has a duty or responsibility. He deserted his family. forsake is used when a person is leaving someone or something for which he or she once had affection. Don't forsake old friends in times of trouble.

Did You Know?


The sense of "abandon" defined above is a relative newcomer to the English language, dating from the early 1800s, but the noun itself is about 200 years older, having been first used in the 1600s in the sense of "the act of abandoning." The earlier sense was influenced by the verb "abandon," which was borrowed by Middle English in the 1300s from Anglo-French abandoner. The Anglo-French term in turn came from the phrase (mettre) a bandun, meaning "to hand over" or "put in someone's control." The newer sense has been more directly influenced by French abandon, which means not only "abandonment or surrender," but also "freedom from constraint."

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
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The sergeant sends the duo on a special mission: to cross the former front lines, now abandoned by German forces, and take a letter to a colonel who’s with his troops at a new forward position. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, "The Beauty of Sam Mendes’s “1917” Comes at a Cost," 7 Jan. 2020 The Cusolitos also donate their time to the co-operative Attiva Stromboli, a non-profit organization resuscitating olive trees abandoned by earlier islanders. Andrea Frazzetta, National Geographic, "What it’s like to live in the shadow of an active volcano," 29 Dec. 2019 An initial agreement between the two sides was abandoned by President Trump in September after a car bomb in Kabul killed a US soldier, a NATO soldier, and 10 others. BostonGlobe.com, "In a news release, the American-led mission in Afghanistan provided little detail about the episode or the service member’s identity pending notification of next of kin.," 24 Dec. 2019 Because most of them were horses that had been abandoned by their owners, the horses were very approachable to humans, Conn said. Paul P. Murphy, CNN, "Someone is shooting horses to death in Kentucky and the number is now up to 20," 23 Dec. 2019 An initial agreement between the two sides was abandoned by President Trump in September after a car bomb in Kabul killed a U.S. soldier, a NATO soldier and 10 others. SFChronicle.com, "Taliban claim attack that killed U.S. soldier in Afghanistan," 23 Dec. 2019 The recommendations of the commission, chaired by former presidents Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford, were heartily endorsed by Bush but then abandoned by Congress. David D. Haynes, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Want to make voting easier in Wisconsin? Here are nine ways to do it.," 20 Dec. 2019 Labour was abandoned by its traditional voting base. Nr Editors, National Review, "The Week," 19 Dec. 2019 Those abandoned by capitalism and globalization have turned their loyalties away from Hollywood. Fatima Bhutto, Time, "The End of America's Cultural Hegemony Is Here," 14 Dec. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The brutal nature of the Premier League has repeatedly shown that teams who once played with cavalier abandon in the second-tier have come unstuck when matched against clubs with a higher tactical calibre and better in-game management. SI.com, "The Biggest Challenges Facing the Premier League's Newest Managers This Season," 16 Aug. 2019 More past-their-prime shows should jump the shark with such wild abandon. Time, "Orange Is the New Black Is the Decade's Most Important Show," 22 July 2019 Thorpe is charged with abandon/cruelty to 10 or more animals in Macomb County Circuit Court and has a May trial date. Christina Hall, Detroit Free Press, "Animal rescues watch over animals in need, but no one's watching them. That could change.," 8 Dec. 2019 Young had 14 of Atlanta’s 38 points, probing and launching from 3-point range without abandon. Mike Singer, The Denver Post, "Hawks’ Trae Young erupts for 42, Atlanta snaps Denver’s four-game winning streak," 12 Nov. 2019 By the end of the evening, people had abandoned their rickety folding chairs and little plastic cups of wine to boogie with abandon. Amanda Petrusich, The New Yorker, "The Heavy, Meditative, and Tender Music of Les Filles de Illighadad," 11 Nov. 2019 One-note but convincing, Idris’ performance seethes with furious abandon. Carlos Aguilar, Los Angeles Times, "Review: Brutality of autobiographical ‘Farming’ overwhelms filmmaker’s inspiring life story," 23 Oct. 2019 In these scenes Kapadia still insists on Maradona’s humanity, his realness, selecting footage of him partying with total abandon, at the center of frenzied, drunken chants. Ryu Spaeth, The New Republic, "The Tragedy of Diego Maradona," 10 Oct. 2019 But here, the couple dove in joyously and with abandon: Their kitchen could stand as Gambrel’s dernier cri. Nancy Hass, ELLE Decor, "This Candy-Colored Revivalist Mansion Outside Chicago Brings the Drama," 16 Oct. 2019

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.

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First Known Use of abandon


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


1815, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for abandon


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


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

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Time Traveler for abandon

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for abandon

Last Updated

12 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Abandon.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/abandon?pronunciation&lang=en_us&dir=a&file=abando01. Accessed 19 January 2020.

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More Definitions for abandon



Financial Definition of abandonment

What It Is

In the business world, abandonment refers to the purposeful surrender of ownership of an asset.

How It Works

For example, let's assume that Company XYZ owns an oil processing facility in Nigeria. The government has become very unstable there, and because the company cannot lift up and move the facility, it abandons the property and leaves the country. In doing so, it may be able to recoup some of the costs via tax deductions or other measures, but Company XYZ has surrendered its ownership of the facility.

People who trade commodities and other items using forward contracts also might be able to abandon the underlying assets by undertaking another trade that avoids having to take delivery of the assets.

Why It Matters

Abandoning assets is not as easy as abandoning an empty candy wrapper in the street. Companies often have to calculate the abandonment value of the assets they have left behind or that no longer have financial value, and usually they must get permission from various government entities to let go of physical assets. Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) Statement 71 provides guidance about how companies are to account for abandoned property.

Source: Investing Answers


How to pronounce abandon (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of abandon

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to leave and never return to (someone who needs protection or help)
: to leave and never return to (something)
: to leave (a place) because of danger



English Language Learners Definition of abandon (Entry 2 of 2)

: a feeling or attitude of wild or complete freedom


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

Kids Definition of abandon

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to leave and never return to : give up completely They had to abandon the sinking ship.
2 : to stop having or doing Never abandon hope. … Mr. Popper had abandoned his telephoning …— Richard and Florence Atwater, Mr. Popper's Penguins

Other Words from abandon

abandonment \ -​mənt \ noun



Kids Definition of abandon (Entry 2 of 2)

: a feeling of complete freedom Grandpa drove with reckless abandon.

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Legal Definition of abandon

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on abandon

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for abandon

Spanish Central: Translation of abandon

Nglish: Translation of abandon for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of abandon for Arabic Speakers

Comments on abandon

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


to insert between existing elements

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