abject

adjective
ab·ject | \ˈab-ˌjekt \

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, ab-ˈ \ adverb
abjectness \-ˌjek(t)-nəs, -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

Get our daily newsletter Mr Trump came to power arguing that the world was a mess and American foreign policy an abject failure. The Economist, "Donald Trump is undermining the rules-based international order," 7 June 2018 His drunk scene in Cyprus (orchestrated by Iago) is heartbreaking; so is his abject contrition afterward. Ben Brantley, New York Times, "Review: A Cool-Tempered ‘Othello’ for Warm Central Park Nights," 18 June 2018 Most of the week these elephants of conscience were riding on my shoulders, one dirty and abject, the other shameless in granite metallic. Robert Duffer, chicagotribune.com, "2018 Dodge Durango SRT: For drivers who don't give a hoot," 22 Dec. 2017 Following two fairly abject World Cup showings, and one disappointing one at the Euros, Spain are on the brink. SI.com, "How Luis Enrique Must Force Quick Transition to Stop Spain Returning to the Mediocre Years," 10 July 2018 If so, at least half the country will be in abject misery, much the same way half the country grieved when President Obama won re-election in 2012. Logan Jenkins, sandiegouniontribune.com, "For true moderates, New Yorker tops Dem dream ticket," 9 July 2018 The success of any hypercar hinges on three elements: ludicrous performance, decadent looks, and abject scarcity. Basem Wasef, WIRED, "McLaren's $958,966 Senna Hypercar Ain't Pretty, but It Can Whip a Track," 30 June 2018 Better to make abject images of toasters and trash bags or painting in which accidents conveyed enigmatic meaning. Kathleen Hirsch, BostonGlobe.com, "A portrait of the artist as an older woman," 29 June 2018 His 1989 debut, Pretty Hate Machine, paired chintzy synth-pop symphonies with shockingly abject self-loathing, but his true breakthrough of confrontation came with 1992’s Broken, one of the best EPs in rock history. Spencer Kornhaber, The Atlantic, "Nine Inch Nails Is Still Pushing the Sound of Catharsis," 22 June 2018

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 2018

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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 \

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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