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 In total, the department estimates more than 5,400 people had abandoned the area. Jasmine Aguilera, Time, "A New Wildfire Is Threatening Southern California at Thanksgiving. Here's What to Know," 27 Nov. 2019 But when Adams left town in 2015 to attend to a family medical emergency, she was fired for insubordination and abandoning her job. Andrew Oxford, azcentral, "Arizona Senate policy adviser back on staff after jury's decision in discrimination lawsuit," 27 Nov. 2019 Although China achieved its current dominance by abandoning Maoism for market reform, similar tactics now characterize Xi Jinping’s bid for global clout. Patrick Berry, The New Yorker, "Briefly Noted," 26 Nov. 2019 Hollywood studios now run on blockbusters and event movies to turn a profit, abandoning the mid-budget movies that used to populate theaters. Adam Epstein, Quartz, "“Frozen II” is another monster hit in Disney’s record-breaking 2019. And it still has Star Wars to come," 25 Nov. 2019 For example, the state recently demolished a rundown and mostly abandoned public housing complex in Hartford’s Blue Hills neighborhood, about three miles from Frog Hollow. Jacqueline Rabe Thomas, ProPublica, "Separated by Design: Why Affordable Housing Is Built in Areas With High Crime, Few Jobs and Struggling Schools," 25 Nov. 2019 In Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, published in 1861, author Harriet Jacobs’s uncle Benjamin decides to escape from the plantation in North Carolina by abandoning his life as a black man. Emily Bernard, Harper's magazine, "Autobiography of an Ex-Black Man," 25 Nov. 2019 Returning our courts to their proper place in our constitutional framework is a tall order, and not one to be solved by abandoning life tenure for Supreme Court justices. John Fund, National Review, "It’s Time for Term Limits on the Supreme Court," 24 Nov. 2019 Prosecutors allege Nelson shot the brothers and then abandoned their vehicle. Fox News, "Remains found in Nebraska and Missouri identified as missing Wisconsin brothers," 23 Nov. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun 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 The result is a study of devotion and a celebration of the rewards that come from loving with abandon. The New Yorker, "Briefly Noted," 15 Oct. 2019 The offense went full smash-mouth and ran the ball with reckless abandon. Justice Delos Santos, The Mercury News, "Wilcox scores 27 straight points to come back and beat San Benito," 6 Sep. 2019 Grantham doesn’t want hard feelings, just hard-nosed players capable of executing a complicated scheme with reckless abandon. Edgar Thompson, orlandosentinel.com, "UF DC Todd Grantham uses tough love to help Gators’ defense dominate, have fun," 25 Aug. 2019 On the field, players slam into each other with reckless abandon. Lauren Fox, BostonGlobe.com, "Rough-and-tumble Gaelic football is a hit on both sides of the Atlantic," 15 Aug. 2019 President Trump and his allies lie with reckless abandon. Brian Stelter, CNN, "Trump's lies are getting bolder and the press is stuck in the middle," 25 July 2019 Aside from the general mayhem caused by superhero powers used without restraint, the psychological side of The Boys gets plumbed with reckless abandon. Shana O'neil, The Verge, "The Boys is a bloody manic mayhem dream show," 24 July 2019 Motorists use horns with abandon and speed through intersections, disregarding red lights. Amy Gunia / Hong Kong, Time, "8 Questions With James Peng of Pony.ai, One of China's Most Valuable Autonomous Vehicle Startups," 10 July 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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Learn More about abandon

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

30 Nov 2019

Cite this Entry

“Abandon.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/abandons. Accessed 5 December 2019.

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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

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