abject

play
adjective ab·ject \ˈab-ˌjekt\

Definition of abject

  1. 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

  2. 2a :  cast down in spirit :  servile, spiritless a man made abject by suffering an abject cowardb :  showing hopelessness or resignation abject surrender

  3. 3 :  expressing or offered in a humble and often ingratiating spirit abject flattery an abject apology

abjectly

play \ˈab-ˌjek(t)-lē, ab-ˈ\ adverb

abjectness

play \-ˌjek(t)-nəs, -ˈjek(t)-\ noun

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Examples of abject in a Sentence

  1. … the time would come that no human being should be humiliated or be made abject. —Katherine Anne Porter, The Never-Ending Wrong, 1977

  2. … my critical intelligence sometimes shrivels to an abject nodding of the head. —Lewis H. Lapham, Harper's, May 1971

  3. … 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

  4. They live in abject misery.

  5. He offered an abject apology.

  6. She thought he was an abject coward.

Recent Examples of abject from the Web

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

Synonym Discussion of 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

ABJECT Defined for Kids

abject

play
adjective ab·ject \ˈab-ˌjekt\

Definition of abject for Students

  1. 1 :  very bad or severe abject poverty

  2. 2 :  low in spirit, strength, or hope an abject coward

abjectly

adverb He stared abjectly at his ruined home.


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