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

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web 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 Only fearful, humiliated ex-Trumpers in need of campaign support, like Jeff Sessions, who is again running for the Senate in Alabama, abase themselves and speak of his virtue. David Remnick, The New Yorker, 19 Dec. 2019 Judging from Capitol Hill’s self-abasing deference to Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller, the answer is no. William Mcgurn, WSJ, 24 July 2017 Consequently, the hero must be either venerated and elevated or cynically scorned and abased. Elliot Kaufman, National Review, 19 July 2017 See More

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 9 Jun. 2023.

Kids Definition


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

More from Merriam-Webster on abase

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!