abased; abasing

transitive verb

formal : to lower in rank, office, prestige, or esteem
abase oneself
… the shame that had abased him within and without …James Joyce
archaic : to lower physically
As we enter among them the great elephant makes us a bow in the best style of elephantine courtesy, bending lowly down his mountain bulk, with trunk abased and leg thrust out behind.Nathaniel Hawthorne
abasement noun

Examples of abase in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Turturro was attracted to the novel’s house style: Its manic, sarcastic, abasing observations, largely written in the third person but never far from Sabbath’s perspective, seemed made for the theater. Marc Tracy, New York Times, 25 Oct. 2023 Pence has long since perfected the ability to abase himself in public without seeming the least bit ashamed. Susan B. Glasser, The New Yorker, 24 Aug. 2023 The question is whether the ways in which Pence abased himself in Trump’s efforts to hold on to power will make his testimony seem weaker or more credible. Amy Davidson Sorkin, The New Yorker, 13 Aug. 2023 The tension of the novel is between the femme’s self-abasing love for the brilliant masculine creator and the artist in search of her own form. Saidiya Hartman, The New Yorker, 3 Mar. 2023 He’s forced Republican politicians to publicly abase themselves and trash the nation’s premier law-enforcement agencies in an effort to stay in his good graces. Susan B. Glasser, The New Yorker, 11 Aug. 2022 Unfortunately, an impulse to abase oneself isn’t resolved by a recognition that human life is a collaboration. Caleb Crain, The Atlantic, 10 Aug. 2021 One by one, internees abase themselves before 60 of their fellow prisoners, repenting of their errors in thinking and their nonprogressive religious practices. James E. Person Jr., National Review, 17 Sep. 2020 By the end of the weekend, the entire NBA was in damage-control mode, profusely and absurdly abasing themselves. Michael Brendan Dougherty, National Review, 7 Oct. 2019

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

Word History


alteration (conformed to base entry 3) of Middle English abessen, abaisen, abaschen, borrowed from Anglo-French abesser, abaisser, from a-, prefix in transitive verbs (going back to Latin ad-) + -besser, going back to Vulgar Latin *bassiāre "to lower," derivative of Late Latin bassus "fat, short, low" — more at ad-, base entry 3

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Time Traveler
The first known use of abase was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near abase

Cite this Entry

“Abase.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/abase. Accessed 25 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition


abased; abasing
: to lower in rank or position : humble, degrade
abasement noun

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