abuse

noun
\ə-ˈbyüs \

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 \
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 \-​ˈbyü-​zə-​bəl \ 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

Each of the plane’s components is subject to all sorts of abuse: for example, to test how well a jet could withstand everything from a hail storm to a bird strike, engines are pelted with a barrage of ice chunks and dead chickens. Barbara Peterson, Condé Nast Traveler, "How Often Do New Airplanes Have Problems?," 2 Nov. 2018 And after that, oldest son Matt Brown returned to rehab to seek treatment for alcohol abuse. Megan Friedman, Country Living, "‘Alaskan Bush People’ Star Billy Brown Was Hospitalized After a Health Scare," 21 Oct. 2018 Finally, the anonymity that catalog sales offered was a powerful corrective to the abuses of the Jim Crow era. Patrick Sisson, Curbed, "How Sears Kit Homes changed housing," 16 Oct. 2018 Federal tax law prohibits deducting any loss from the sale of property between members of the same family, because of the potential for abuse. Susanne Craig, The Seattle Times, "Trump engaged in suspect tax schemes as he reaped riches from father," 2 Oct. 2018 There’s a part of Camille that stayed frozen in adolescence, unable to move on or heal, which is not at all uncommon for victims of abuse (more on that in a moment). Emma Dibdin, Harper's BAZAAR, "Camille Reckons with the Ghosts of Her Recent Past in Sharp Objects Episode 3," 23 July 2018 In Colombia Semana, a news magazine, has a long tradition of denouncing abuses by the security forces. The Economist, "Latin America’s new media are growing up," 14 July 2018 Baltimore Police have suspended a detective who has been the subject of costly lawsuits after a Harford County judge issued an order barring him from carrying a gun when his children's mother leveled allegations of domestic violence and child abuse. Ian Duncan, baltimoresun.com, "Baltimore Police detective suspended after judge orders him to give up gun in domestic violence case," 13 July 2018 Maqkwone and three siblings have been in foster care since September 2017 after their mother was investigated for child abuse and neglect, according to DCFS. Elyssa Cherney, chicagotribune.com, "DCFS had investigated complaint about supervision in foster home where boy, 3, died in fire," 12 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

But like morphine, outrage is widely abused—and addictive. Lance Morrow, WSJ, "America Is Addicted to Outrage. Is There a Cure?," 30 Nov. 2018 How in the name of political correctness has this beer-guzzling, language-abusing, sensibilities-mangling San Diego tradition called Over-the-Line survived? Bryce Miller, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Cover your ears: Over-the-Line evolves, but the raunchy team names remain," 14 July 2018 Even without goading from employees, some tech company leaders, such as Ken Sutton of Yobe, are fretting about how their innovations might be used — or abused — by governments. Hiawatha Bray, BostonGlobe.com, "Tech community wrestles over working with government," 13 July 2018 While the other employees keep their cellphones in easy access, none of them abuse the privilege. Anchorage Daily News, "My employee is constantly on her cellphone at work. How can I rein her in without looking unfair?," 9 July 2018 The two people arrested from a Davidson nail salon on human trafficking charges had allegedly been abusing a woman for months, according to arrest warrants. Lavendrick Smith, charlotteobserver, "Duo accused of human trafficking at NC salon stabbed woman with tools, warrants say," 29 June 2018 According to a criminal complaint filed by the state Department of Justice, Warichak abused two residents in her care at the Autumn Bay of Pewaukee assisted living facility, 539 E. Wisconsin Ave. Steven Martinez, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Pewaukee woman convicted of abusing elderly residents at local assisted living facility, loses nursing certifications," 25 June 2018 Glide serves more than 700,000 meals every year and runs programs for the homeless, people living with HIV, abused women and others. Sam Whiting, SFChronicle.com, "Bishop’s letter puts future of Glide Memorial, Cecil Williams in doubt," 24 June 2018 Anyone who believes they were abused by Karey or another priest is asked to contact the archdiocese's Victim Assistance Coordinator at 866-343-8055 or vac@aod.org. Ann Zaniewski, Detroit Free Press, "Detroit Archdiocese: Sex abuse claim against dead priest is credible," 22 June 2018

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 2"

Verb

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

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Learn More about abuse

Dictionary Entries near abuse

aburst

aburton

abusage

abuse

abused

abusee

Abu Simbel

Statistics for abuse

Last Updated

9 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for abuse

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

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More Definitions for abuse

abuse

noun
\ə-ˈbyüs \

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 \
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 \

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 \
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

3a : masturbate

b : to subject to abuse and especially to rape or indecent assault

Other Words from abuse

abusable \-​ˈbyü-​zə-​bəl \ adjective
abuser noun
\ə-ˈbyüz \
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 \

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

b : sexual abuse

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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with abuse

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for abuse

Spanish Central: Translation of abuse

Nglish: Translation of abuse for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of abuse for Arabic Speakers

Comments on abuse

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