abject

adjective
ab·​ject | \ ˈab-ˌjekt How to pronounce abject (audio) \

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
2a : cast down in spirit : servile, spiritless a man made abject by suffering an abject coward
b : showing hopelessness or resignation abject surrender
3 : expressing or offered in a humble and often ingratiating spirit abject flattery an abject apology

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Other Words from abject

abjectly \ ˈab-​ˌjek(t)-​lē How to pronounce abjectly (audio) , ab-​ˈjek(t)-​ \ adverb
abjectness \ ˈab-​ˌjek(t)-​nəs How to pronounce abjectness (audio) , ab-​ˈjek(t)-​ \ noun

Synonyms for abject

Synonyms

base, humble, menial, servile, slavish

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Choose the Right Synonym for abject

mean, ignoble, abject, sordid mean being below the normal standards of human decency and dignity. mean suggests 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 abject may imply degradation, debasement, or servility. abject poverty sordid is stronger than all of these in stressing physical or spiritual degradation and abjectness. a sordid story of murder and revenge

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").

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.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Banned: Becky starts fixing it with an abject and sincere apology. Carolyn Hax, Washington Post, "Caroly Hax: Now Goldilocks is looking at hotel porridge and beds," 12 Sep. 2019 Becky starts fixing it with an abject and sincere apology. Carolyn Hax, The Mercury News, "Carolyn Hax: We were banned because my wife offered helpful hints to hostess," 12 Sep. 2019 Banned Becky starts fixing it with an abject and sincere apology. Carolyn Hax, oregonlive, "Carolyn Hax: Thank-you note filled with constructive criticism drives spike through hull of family relationship," 12 Sep. 2019 Patriots fans will once again sit on their couches and chortle at the abject stupidity of every coach who goes up against Belichick. Dan Shaughnessy, BostonGlobe.com, "Why Bill Belichick and the Patriots fit our self-image," 7 Sep. 2019 Everyone wanted to see either abject failure and the resulting walk of shame, or a record. Rich Cohen, Harper's magazine, "The Wood Chipper," 19 Aug. 2019 After exploiting everything and everyone, making millions and, in Epstein’s case, billions, both men died as guests of the nation, with either the abject incompetence or sinister connivance of a government that once coddled them. Kevin Cullen, BostonGlobe.com, "Jeffrey Epstein and ‘Whitey’ Bulger: A tale of two sociopaths," 15 Aug. 2019 In Russia, as writer Alexander Solzhenitsyn noted with regret, the clerical compromise with power was more abject than in Poland: the Russian Orthodox church escaped near annihilation in the early 1960s by agreeing to parrot Soviet foreign policy. The Economist, "Church leaders in central and eastern Europe remain surprisingly loth to condemn their old adversary," 11 Aug. 2019 Both artists were preoccupied with the abject side of the human body — the body as meat. Sebastian Smee, Washington Post, "Artist Hyman Bloom’s body of work is revered. And the bodies are cadavers.," 31 July 2019

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.

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First Known Use of abject

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for 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 jet entry 3

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Dictionary Entries near abject

a bit strong

Abitur

abiuret

abject

abjection

abjective

abjoint

Statistics for abject

Last Updated

18 Sep 2019

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Time Traveler for abject

The first known use of abject was in the 15th century

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More Definitions for abject

abject

adjective
ab·​ject | \ ˈab-ˌjekt How to pronounce abject (audio) \

Kids Definition of abject

1 : very bad or severe abject poverty
2 : low in spirit, strength, or hope an abject coward

Other Words from abject

abjectly adverb He stared abjectly at his ruined home.

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More from Merriam-Webster on abject

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with abject

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for abject

Spanish Central: Translation of abject

Nglish: Translation of abject for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of abject for Arabic Speakers

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