Definition of abject
1 : sunk to or existing in a low state or condition : very bad or severe living in abject poverty to lowest pitch of abject fortune thou art fallen — John Milton abject failure
3 : expressing or offered in a humble and often ingratiating spirit abject flattery an abject apology
abjectlyplay \ˈab-ˌjek(t)-lē, ab-ˈ\ adverb
abjectnessplay \-ˌjek(t)-nəs, -ˈjek(t)-\ noun
abject was our Word of the Day on 02/01/2016. Hear the podcast!
Theme music by Joshua Stamper ©2006 New Jerusalem Music/ASCAP
Examples of abject in a Sentence
… the time would come that no human being should be humiliated or be made abject. —Katherine Anne Porter, The Never-Ending Wrong, 1977
… my critical intelligence sometimes shrivels to an abject nodding of the head. —Lewis H. Lapham, Harper's, May 1971
… nothing seemed to have changed at the Beehive across the years. The same pallid employees were visible in the same abject state of peonage, cringing under the whiplash of overseers. —S. J. Perelman, Baby, It's Cold Inside, 1970
They live in abject misery.
He offered an abject apology.
She thought he was an abject coward.
Recent Examples of abject from the Web
The 2010 and 2014 elections were abject failures for the Democratic Party.
In her travels, Aduba also met Moses Zabika, a man who has gone from abject poverty to a multi-room home lit by biofuel produced by his cows.
Beattie especially savors the abject drama of weddings and birthdays, where her vivid prose spikes the fever of human haplessness and showcases our most crass imperfections.
When the decision day came, Trump required that Vice President Pence introduce him with the kind of abject but unspecific praise generally reserved for the honoree at a pancake breakfast.
The movie's abject failure could have been a lesson to future producers.
The U.S. practiced a free market, laissez-faire, capitalism at the turn of the last century, resulting in abject poverty for most and incredible wealth for the few.
Pitching to UC San Diego’s Jack Larsen during last week’s California Collegiate Athletic Association tournament proved an exercise in abject, baseball-punishing failure.
Sony has been able to get PSP from a state of abject failure into a more reasonably successful position in the Japanese portable market.
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'abject'. Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
Did You Know?
Abject comes from "abjectus," the past participle of the Latin verb abicere, meaning "to cast off." Its original meaning in English was "cast off" or "rejected," but it is now used to refer more broadly to things in a low state or condition. "Abject" shares with "mean," "ignoble," and "sordid" the sense of being below the normal standards of human decency and dignity. "Abject" may imply degradation, debasement, or servility ("abject poverty"). "Mean" suggests having such repellent characteristics as small-mindedness, ill temper, or cupidity ("mean and petty satire"). "Ignoble" suggests a loss or lack of some essential high quality of mind or spirit ("an ignoble scramble after material possessions"). "Sordid" is stronger than all of these in stressing physical or spiritual degradation and lowness ("a sordid story of murder and revenge").
Origin and Etymology of abject
Middle English, “outcast, rejected, lowly,” borrowed from Latin abjectus “downcast, humble, sordid,” from past participle of abicere “to throw away, throw down, overcome, abandon,” from ab- ab- + -icere, reduced form of jacere “to throw” — more at 3jet
First Known Use: 15th centurySee Words from the same year
Synonym Discussion of abject
ABJECT Defined for Kids
Definition of abject for Students
1 : very bad or severe abject poverty
2 : low in spirit, strength, or hope an abject coward
abjectlyadverb He stared abjectly at his ruined home.
Seen and Heard
What made you want to look up abject? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).