abetted; abetting

transitive verb

: to actively second and encourage (something, such as an activity or plan)
abet the commission of a crime
: to assist or support (someone) in the achievement of a purpose
The singer was abetted by a skillful accompanist.
especially : to assist, encourage, instigate, or support with criminal intent in attempting or carrying out a crime
often used in the phrase aid and abet
accused of aiding and abetting a criminal
abetment noun
abettor noun
or less commonly abetter
Choose the Right Synonym for abet

incite, instigate, abet, foment mean to spur to action.

incite stresses a stirring up and urging on, and may or may not imply initiating.

inciting a riot

instigate definitely implies responsibility for initiating another's action and often connotes underhandedness or evil intention.

instigated a conspiracy

abet implies both assisting and encouraging.

aiding and abetting the enemy

foment implies persistence in goading.

fomenting rebellion

Examples of abet in a Sentence

She abetted the thief in his getaway. Did he abet the commission of a crime? Their actions were shown to abet terrorism.
Recent Examples on the Web The normalization of Florida’s slavery whitewash has been abetted by a supine press. Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times, 2 Aug. 2023 At around the same time, Stein — abetted by his then-wife Linda — increasingly began to scour the New York clubs for new talent. Chris Morris, Variety, 2 Apr. 2023 The film has a jaunty tone of deadpan glee, abetted by its soundtrack of ’60s and ’70s jazz standards. Owen Gleiberman, Variety, 4 Sep. 2023 But after countless Octobers of pinstripes and Green Monsters, and divisional dominance abetted in part by their underlings’ futility, the division has finally turned upside down. Gabe Lacques, USA TODAY, 25 Aug. 2023 Violently suppressed labor strikes, crooked cops abetting the Ku Klux Klan, the shadow of the Holocaust, the horrors of Jim Crow and, later, mainstream resistance to the Civil Rights Movement, the Vietnam War — all these made their way into Guston’s often deceptively buoyant paintings. Aruna D’souza, New York Times, 19 July 2023 As Ziegler says, this is only the start of what the Dobbs ruling, abetted by fanatical legislators, has unleashed. Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times, 9 Aug. 2023 The blithely destructive force of wealth, abetted by the crushingly cavalier power of law enforcement, are at the dramatic center of film after film, and much of Chaplin’s comedy mocks the honored emblems of respectable society. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, 28 July 2023 The recent television renaissance, abetted by the rise of streaming services, shook the industry out of its 22-episode, too-many-procedurals rut and brought us all manner of glorious (and not-so-glorious) serial storytelling. Mary McNamara, Los Angeles Times, 17 Apr. 2023 See More

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

Word History


Middle English abetten, borrowed from Anglo-French abeter, from a-, prefix in transitive verbs (going back to Latin ad- ad-) + beter "to harass (a bear with dogs), bait," borrowed from Old Low Franconian *bētan; akin to Old English bǣtan "to set upon (with animals), bait" — more at bait entry 1

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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

Dictionary Entries Near abet

Cite this Entry

“Abet.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/abet. Accessed 25 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


abetted; abetting
: to actively encourage or aid
abetment noun
abettor noun
also abetter

Legal Definition


transitive verb
abetted; abetting
: to assist, encourage, instigate, or support with criminal intent in attempting or carrying out a crime
often used in the phrase aid and abet
abetment noun
abettor noun
also abetter

More from Merriam-Webster on abet

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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