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-​ˈ \ adverb
abjectness \ -​ˌjek(t)-​nəs How to pronounce abjectness (audio) , -​ˈjek(t)-​ \ noun

Synonyms for abject


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

Either way, the dark side wins and the weakest among us are forced to suffer and die in abject anonymity. Annika Hernroth-rothstein, National Review, "I Was Kidnapped in Venezuela," 7 June 2019 This may sound like a sentimental conclusion for a show that plainly depicted bloodshed and subjugation, and often seemed to revel in the more abject qualities of the American West. Rachel Syme, The New Republic, "The Outlaw World of Deadwood," 6 June 2019 Their poor form was epitomised by an abject performance away to Hoffenheim, deservedly losing the match 3-1. SI.com, "Peter Stöger Explains Reasoning Behind His Departure Following Dortmund's Defeat to Hoffenheim," 13 May 2018 Now, on the other hand, will be tackling the abject horror of our current political realities with the October 12th debut of Pod Saves America. Bryan Bishop, The Verge, "Everything coming to Netflix, Amazon Prime, and HBO Now in October," 30 Sep. 2018 This lifeline did not simply make the difference between a steady income and abject poverty for researchers across the region. Simon Shuster / Dnipro, Time, "How North Korea Built a Nuclear Arsenal on the Ashes of the Soviet Union," 1 Feb. 2018 The result of their abject mediocrity is something that seemed impossible not long ago: LeBron James and the Lakers are in serious jeopardy of missing the NBA playoffs. Ben Cohen, WSJ, "Buy Low on LeBron James and the Lakers," 15 Feb. 2019 Her portrayal of Queen Anne is compelling, and made all the better for her embrace of the abject. Chloe Foussianes, Town & Country, "Olivia Colman Is the Latest British Star to Make it Stateside," 3 Jan. 2019 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

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







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Last Updated

12 Jun 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


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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behavior toward others

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