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 old one, largely abandoned by the whites, has been partially repopulated by Latino retail districts, but otherwise stands empty. Los Angeles Times, "Robert A. Jones, pioneering environmental voice and whitewater adventurer, dies at 74," 15 Sep. 2019 That's really a pity because Fanning's Lilly is quite a snooze, a blond blank slate who seems to lack much interiority or even scars from the trauma she's suffered from being abandoned by her parents. Leslie Felperin, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Sweetness in the Belly': Film Review | TIFF 2019," 6 Sep. 2019 His campaign was premised on the notion that a large, moderate plurality in the country felt abandoned by the Republican and Democratic shift toward angrier, more partisan politics and more extreme positions. Greg Jaffe, Anchorage Daily News, "Former Starbucks CEO Schultz says he won’t run for president," 6 Sep. 2019 Only one pelagic cormorant nest was found — and later abandoned by the parents — when researchers typically see 150 nests. Will Houston, The Mercury News, "Poor Farallon Islands bird breeding season prompts alarm," 2 Sep. 2019 Pets are often surrendered to local shelters as hurricanes approach or are left abandoned by owners fleeing the storms. Scott Trubey, ajc, "Hurricane Dorian: Atlanta shelters prepare for displaced pets," 31 Aug. 2019 The rapper said his relationship with Dun-Deal deteriorated after he was injured in a car accident and he felt abandoned by the independent label. David Lindquist, Indianapolis Star, "He's taking the stairs, not the elevator, but Indianapolis rapper Trajik just keeps rising," 22 Aug. 2019 Afghan critics of the plan worry that as those peace talks inevitably stumble, Kabul government would begin to lose territory to the Taliban, abandoned by Washington and with American firepower sitting idly by. Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, "What a wedding massacre says about Trump's plan to leave Afghanistan," 19 Aug. 2019 The movie doesn’t explore how the women individually process the trauma of being abandoned by their spouses and abused by the mob. Shirley Li, The Atlantic, "The Cheap Thrills of The Kitchen and Why Women Kill," 19 Aug. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The worst offenders are the images of relaxed mothers doing yoga, drinking enough water, eating perfect combinations of carbs and protein, and laughing with careless abandon at their child’s antics. Nefertiti Austin, Washington Post, "The ugly, exhausting reality of parenting, and why we hide it from our children," 26 Aug. 2019 The pace of the melodrama is exhausting as cutbacks to the past are interspersed with abandon. Garrett Mitchell, Detroit Free Press, "Visually appealing ‘Goldfinch’ is far from a masterpiece," 12 Sep. 2019 Mitchell’s willingness to attack the tin with abandon sets him apart from much of Team USA. Michael Shapiro, SI.com, "Team USA’s Backup Squad Finally Falls in FIBA World Cup," 11 Sep. 2019 Luckily, my father and Fridolína always admired my dance performances, found great promise in my drawings, and praised and encouraged me with abandon. Zuzana Justman, The New Yorker, "My Terezín Diary," 9 Sep. 2019 The environment is destructible, so Faden can toss staplers, paperwork, and office chairs around with abandon. Matthew Gault, Time, "'Control' Feels Like What Would Happen if David Lynch Made a Video Game," 5 Sep. 2019 Special effects were loaded into the production — laser lights, rising platforms, fireworks sprays, confetti and streamers — and the quintet romped among them with abandon. Mary Colurso | Mcolurso@al.com, al, "Does Birmingham still care about the Backstreet Boys? (Spoiler alert: Yes!)," 5 Sep. 2019 Much of this is accomplished by a menu that smashes together British, American, French, Asian and Spanish influences with abandon, dropping some amazing flavor bombs on the table. al, "Squid Ink happens: Downtown Mobile gets new flavors," 5 Aug. 2019 The naturally fit partner Signs this is your partner: He or she is blessed with a speedy metabolism, and often super-fit (with a high muscle mass), eating with abandon, without a thought to calories. Madelyn Fernstrom, NBC News, "Dr. Fernstrom: Is your partner sabotaging your health?," 30 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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Statistics for abandon

Last Updated

2 Nov 2019

Time Traveler for abandon

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

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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).


not being in agreement or harmony

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