abuse

noun
\ ə-ˈbyüs How to pronounce abuse (audio) \

Definition of abuse

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a corrupt practice or custom the buying of votes and other election abuses
2 : improper or excessive use or treatment : misuse drug abuse
3 : language that condemns or vilifies usually unjustly, intemperately, and angrily verbal abuse a term of abuse
4 : physical maltreatment child abuse sexual abuse
5 obsolete : a deceitful act : deception

abuse

verb
\ ə-ˈbyüz How to pronounce abuse (audio) \
abused; abusing

Definition of abuse (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1a : to put to a wrong or improper use abuse a privilege
b : to use excessively abuse alcohol also : to use without medical justification abusing painkillers
2 : to use or treat so as to injure or damage : maltreat abused his wife
3 : to attack in words : revile verbally abused the referee
4 obsolete : deceive

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Other Words from abuse

Verb

abusable \ ə-​ˈbyü-​zə-​bəl How to pronounce abusable (audio) \ adjective
abuser noun

Choose the Right Synonym for abuse

Noun

abuse, vituperation, invective, obloquy, billingsgate mean vehemently expressed condemnation or disapproval. abuse, the most general term, usually implies the anger of the speaker and stresses the harshness of the language. scathing verbal abuse vituperation implies fluent and sustained abuse. a torrent of vituperation invective implies a comparable vehemence but suggests greater verbal and rhetorical skill and may apply to a public denunciation. blistering political invective obloquy suggests defamation and consequent shame and disgrace. subjected to obloquy and derision billingsgate implies practiced fluency and variety of profane or obscene abuse. directed a stream of billingsgate at the cabdriver

Examples of abuse in a Sentence

Noun He subjected his wife to physical and emotional abuse. the buying of votes and other election abuses She was subjected to every term of abuse her boss could think of. a torrent of verbal abuse The prisoner hurled abuse at the judge. Verb He was accused of sexually abusing a child. He abused his body with years of heavy drinking. He had abused his first car by not taking care of it. She abused her friend's trust. a senator who abuses his power He abused my confidence by letting this secret be known.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun California's homelessness crisis is prevalent in the city of Los Angeles, as tens of thousands of residents struggle to hold down a permanent residence while grappling with the fallout from substance abuse. Nick Givas, Fox News, "Homelessness in Los Angeles: Here are the statistics," 15 Feb. 2020 Both the Sri Lankan military and the rebels have been accused of wartime abuses. Washington Post, "US travel ban for Sri Lanka army chief in hospital shelling," 14 Feb. 2020 Sustainable housing plus mental health issues plus substance abuse plus the cycle of poverty equals an interdisciplinary learning program focused on identifying the causes and the systems that contribute to homelessness. Paulina Pineda, azcentral, "Tempe election: Mayoral and council hopefuls respond to questions on city issues," 14 Feb. 2020 Inspector General Michael Horowitz uncovered 17 instances of abuse by DOJ and FBI officials who had investigated the Trump campaign for allegedly colluding with Russian agents to influence the 2016 election. Tim Pearce, Washington Examiner, "Lindsey Graham asks DOJ for interviews with 17 officials in FISA abuse investigation," 14 Feb. 2020 The largest number of abuse claims - 48 - came from the wrestling team. Sabrina Eaton, cleveland, "Here’s who says Jim Jordan knew - or didn’t know - about sex abuse on OSU’s wrestling team," 13 Feb. 2020 Police filed a credit-card abuse report Feb. 5 in the 2500 block of Rock Shoals Way. Jennifer James, Houston Chronicle, "Counterfeit money, scams and ID theft reported in Pearland," 13 Feb. 2020 Mayor Joe Hogsett, a Democrat, has called for unity and urged community members to help solve deep-set problems that fuel the violence, including drug abuse and generational poverty. Vic Ryckaert, Indianapolis Star, "Guns fired at or near police 3 times in 3 weeks," 13 Feb. 2020 The south side exterior wall will show more wear due to abuse by the summer sun. Barbara Ramsey, Anchorage Daily News, "Selling your home this summer? Start building your curb appeal now.," 13 Feb. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The House last month voted to repeal the 2002 law, with lawmakers in both parties arguing that the authorization had become outdated and been abused by presidents as a blank check to circumvent Congress in taking military action. Catie Edmondson, New York Times, "White House Memo Justifying Suleimani Strike Cites No Imminent Threat," 14 Feb. 2020 The church learned of these allegations in 2018, after the man's wife called an archdiocese hotline and said that her husband had been abused by his priest 40 years earlier. Tresa Baldas, Detroit Free Press, "Catholic church sued in novel lawsuit: Our priest was falsely accused," 13 Feb. 2020 During his State of the Union address on Tuesday, President Trump acknowledged the parents of a young Christian woman who was personally abused by the late Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al Baghdadi. Jon Brown, Washington Examiner, "'I find God in suffering': Trump recognizes parents of ISIS victim Kayla Mueller during State of the Union," 4 Feb. 2020 Like Pomeranz, Chiu had no concerns that the girl had been abused. NBC News, "An ER doctor was charged with abusing his baby. But 15 medical experts say there's no proof.," 27 Jan. 2020 Your suggestion to talk to the child who was abused was very helpful. oregonlive, "Dear Annie: Reader appreciates advice on healing from childhood abuse," 27 Jan. 2020 Staley had been abused by Clowney when the 49ers’ left tackle was playing in his first game after breaking his fibula two months earlier. Eric Branch, SFChronicle.com, "49ers’ Joe Staley makes it clear: He won’t be the retiring type," 3 Jan. 2020 Similarly, Denver must have a solid containment plan for tight end Travis Kelce, who’s abused linebackers and safeties in coverage all season. 2. Kyle Newman, The Denver Post, "Broncos scouting report: How Denver matches up against the Chiefs and predictions," 13 Dec. 2019 This is not the first time cloud services have been abused by payment card skimmers. Dan Goodin, Ars Technica, "Payment card-skimming malware targeting 4 sites found on Heroku cloud platform," 4 Dec. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'abuse.' 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 abuse

Noun

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for abuse

Noun

Middle English, borrowed from Anglo-French, borrowed from Latin abūsus "misuse, waste," noun derivative from abūtī "to exhaust, use up, misuse," from ab- ab- + ūtī "to use entry 1"

Verb

Middle English abusen, borrowed from Anglo-French abuser, verbal derivative of abuse abuse entry 1

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Learn More about abuse

Time Traveler for abuse

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for abuse

Last Updated

18 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Abuse.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/abuse. Accessed 27 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for abuse

abuse

noun
\ ə-ˈbyüs How to pronounce abuse (audio) \

Kids Definition of abuse

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : wrong or unfair treatment or use abuse of power
2 : the act or practice of improperly using or of using in harmful amounts drug abuse
3 : harmful treatment of a person or an animal
4 : harsh insulting language “Never a kind word for old Templeton, only abuse and wisecracks …”— E. B. White, Charlotte's Web
5 : a dishonest practice election abuses

abuse

verb
\ ə-ˈbyüz How to pronounce abuse (audio) \
abused; abusing

Kids Definition of abuse (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to treat in a cruel or harmful way abuse an animal
2 : to use wrongly : misuse abuse privileges
3 : to use improperly or in harmful amounts abuse drugs
4 : to blame or scold rudely

abuse

noun
\ ə-ˈbyüs How to pronounce abuse (audio) \

Medical Definition of abuse

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : improper or excessive use or treatment drug abuse long-term abuse of tranquilizers
2 : physical maltreatment: as
a : the act of violating sexually : rape
b under some statutes : rape or indecent assault not amounting to rape
\ ə-ˈbyüz How to pronounce abuse (audio) \
abused; abusing

Medical Definition of abuse (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to use excessively abuse alcohol also : to use without medical justification abusing painkillers
2 : to treat so as to injure or damage abuse a child
b : to subject to abuse and especially to rape or indecent assault

Other Words from abuse

abusable \ -​ˈbyü-​zə-​bəl How to pronounce abusable (audio) \ adjective
abuser noun
\ ə-ˈbyüz How to pronounce abuse (audio) \
abused; abusing

Legal Definition of abuse

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to put to a use other than the one intended: as
a : to put to a bad or unfair use abusing the powers of office
b : to put to improper or excessive use abuse narcotics
2a : to inflict physical or emotional mistreatment or injury on (as one's child) purposely or through negligence or neglect and often on a regular basis
b : to engage in sexual activity with (a child under an age specified by statute)
3 : to attack harshly with words abuse a police officer abuse a debtor

Other Words from abuse

abuser noun

abuse

noun
\ ə-ˈbyüs How to pronounce abuse (audio) \

Legal Definition of abuse (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : improper, unfair, or excessive use abuse of authority drug abuse
2a : the infliction of physical or emotional injury also : the crime of inflicting such injury — see also battered child syndrome, battered woman's syndrome — compare cruelty, neglect
3 : a verbal attack (as on a police officer in the performance of his or her duty) also : the crime of making such an attack

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More from Merriam-Webster on abuse

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for abuse

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with abuse

Spanish Central: Translation of abuse

Nglish: Translation of abuse for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of abuse for Arabic Speakers

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