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

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

Did you know?

The sense of abandon defined above is a relative newcomer to the English language, dating from the early 1800s, but an earlier noun sense, defined as "the act of abandoning," was in use in the 1600s. The earlier sense was influenced by the verb abandon, which was borrowed by Middle English in the 1300s from Anglo-French abanduner. The Anglo-French term in turn came from the phrase (mettre) a bandun, meaning "to hand over" or "to 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 See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Hybrid virtual meetings: Bans on in-person meetings ended almost 2 years ago and fully virtual meetings are not generally allowed, but that doesn’t mean HOAs should completely abandon virtual meeting platforms. Kelly G. Richardson, San Diego Union-Tribune, 17 Sep. 2022 So when Barnes walked and pitcher Walker Buehler stepped in the batter’s box, Barnes anticipated that Votto would abandon holding him at first and break for the plate before the pitcher began his delivery. Steve Henson, Los Angeles Times, 23 Aug. 2022 Milkman: What are common misconceptions about getting things done that people should abandon? Katy Milkman, CNN, 22 July 2022 In contrast, military intelligence officials argue that if a new nuclear deal is not reached, the U.S. and Europe will abandon the topic. New York Times, 14 July 2022 For Buddhists, the clear light of reality is visible only to those who abandon the illusion of selfhood. Hari Kunzru, Harper’s Magazine , 22 June 2022 Just as concerning, from Facebook’s perspective, is that users may abandon Facebook altogether. Yoni Heisler, BGR, 19 June 2022 Even the vaccinated and boosted now grudgingly accept the virus as a formidable foe that’s here to stay as governments abandon measures to contain it. Fenit Nirappil, Craig Pittman And Maureen O'hagan, Anchorage Daily News, 28 May 2022 But alas, Arondir has fallen in love with single mother Bronwyn (Nazanin Boniadi) and is reluctant to abandon her to the dark shadows growing in the south. Christian Holub, EW.com, 2 Sep. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Those metal and hip-hop influences are what give a Tainy track its wild aggressive abandon and frenetic feel, beyond reggaeton’s rush. A.d. Amorosi, Variety, 18 Aug. 2022 Haim grew up in Iowa, the son of a home economics teacher who taught him how to sew — unknowingly stitching the threads of his future gig — and to eat, with unironic abandon. Taylore Glynn, Allure, 7 Aug. 2022 In an everything-goes-up environment, supported by cheap, low-interest borrowing rates, commission-free trading and unbridled euphoria, people stuck at home traded stocks and cryptocurrencies with reckless abandon. Jack Kelly, Forbes, 18 July 2022 Though known to be the series’ wild card – with one always loaded in the chamber and a devil-may-care, take-no-prisoners attitude – Sikora believes Tommy will exhibit more from his wide range of emotions than his famous reckless abandon. Rivea Ruff, Essence, 4 Feb. 2022 And together, their joyful abandon took them over that edge. Washington Post, 7 Nov. 2021 The chorus hook captures the joy of the last day of school with the youthful abandon required. Ed Masley, The Arizona Republic, 8 July 2022 In a basketball game that rips up and down the court with furious abandon, during which leads and fortunes change repeatedly, sometimes one move — one twitch of the body one way or the other — can end up being the difference. oregonlive, 27 Jan. 2022 This potent six-part HBO miniseries from David Simon and George Pelecanos is all about police corruption in Baltimore, and Bernthal plays the nihilistic ringleader with an abandon that is terrifying. Matthew Gilbert, BostonGlobe.com, 30 June 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.

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

Learn More About abandon

Time Traveler for abandon

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near abandon



abandon/drop all pretense at

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Statistics for abandon

Last Updated

23 Sep 2022

Cite this Entry

“Abandon.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/abandon. Accessed 3 Oct. 2022.

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More Definitions for abandon


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 {amp} 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.

Choose the Right Synonym for abandon


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.


transitive verb

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

More from Merriam-Webster on abandon

Nglish: Translation of abandon for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of abandon for Arabic Speakers


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