Definition of abject
- living in abject poverty
- to lowest pitch of abject fortune thou art fallen
- —John Milton
- abject failure
- abject surrender
- abject flattery
- an abject apology
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They live in abject misery.
He offered an abject apology.
She thought he was an abject coward.
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.
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").
First Known Use: 15th centurySee Words from the same year
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