aban·​don·​ment ə-ˈban-dən-mənt How to pronounce abandonment (audio)
: the act of abandoning something or someone
In its family and social contexts, he argues, the abandonment of children was, if not a "good thing," at least the most feasible means of family limitation during the many centuries when other methods were largely ineffective or, in the case of Christians, prohibited.Mary Martin McLaughlin
: the state of being abandoned
fear of abandonment
The opulence of her life as an expat wife failed to soothe her feelings of abandonment, boredom and oppression.Bob Shacochis
sometimes used before another noun
abandonment issues

Examples of abandonment in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The film isn’t subtle about any of this: Explosions can be heard in the distance, herds of deer flee, and a sense of abandonment sets in. Stephanie Krikorian, Curbed, 14 Nov. 2023 He was fired on Oct. 15, 2020 for job abandonment, according to the complaint. Salvador Hernandez, Los Angeles Times, 13 Nov. 2023 Some of the most extensive abandonment has been in the countries of the former Soviet Union. WIRED, 14 Oct. 2023 Much of the demographic downturn is the result of China’s one-child policy imposed between 1980 and 2015, though the abandonment of that policy is having some effect. Reuters, NBC News, 13 Oct. 2023 Durst had long been a suspect in the disappearance of his former wife Kathie McCormack Durst, who vanished in 1982 at the age of 29; she was declared legally dead in 2017, 27 years after Durst divorced Kathie on grounds of spousal abandonment. Daniel Kreps, Rolling Stone, 2 Nov. 2023 The entire sequence is really silly, but Kevin Bigley really captures the emotions of abandonment and the desperation of wanting to move on. Abbey White, The Hollywood Reporter, 20 Oct. 2023 The sense of government abandonment is a recurring theme among Israelis who were most directly touched by the attack. Howard Lafranchi, The Christian Science Monitor, 19 Oct. 2023 It was originally built as a hospital for the booming Comstock Lode (where the discovery of silver ore was made public in 1859) and its miners in 1875 before slipping into a state of abandonment for many years. Perri Ormont Blumberg Fox News, Fox News, 14 Oct. 2023 See More

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

Word History

First Known Use

1593, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of abandonment was in 1593

Dictionary Entries Near abandonment

Cite this Entry

“Abandonment.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/abandonment. Accessed 4 Dec. 2023.

Legal Definition


: the act of abandoning property or a right: as
: relinquishment by an inventor of the right to enforce a patent see also dedication
: an author's relinquishment to the public domain of his or her copyrighted work
: relinquishment of a trademark established by a failure to use the trademark and an intention never to resume use
: the act of an insured in surrendering all rights to damaged or lost property to an insurer as a total loss compare salvage sense 2b
: relinquishment by a trustee in bankruptcy of interest in property in the bankruptcy estate often for a nominal sum
: the act of abandoning a person: as
: failure to have contact with a spouse that is intended to create a permanent separation
: failure to communicate with or provide financial support for one's child over a period of time that shows a purpose to forgo parental duties and rights
: the act of abandoning a contract
: the act of abandoning a course of action (as a crime)
: the affirmative defense (as recognized under the Model Penal Code) of voluntary withdrawal from the commission of a crime resulting from the actor's change of heart and not from intervening circumstances

More from Merriam-Webster on abandonment

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