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 abuse (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 Though there’s a long history of records about substance abuse and newfound sobriety, the past few years have seen an acceleration of the trend. Mark Richardson, WSJ, "‘Dancing With the Devil... the Art of Starting Over’ by Demi Lovato Review: Recovering a Powerful Voice," 31 Mar. 2021 But Callinan, whose group advocates for aid in dying, says that since Oregon first legalized it in 1997, no data has shown any merit to the warnings about abuse and coercion. Time, "Getting a Prescription to Die Remains Tricky Even As Aid-in-Dying Bills Gain Momentum Across the U.S.," 29 Mar. 2021 An investigation into the school followed after former students' stories about abuse at the boarding school were posted on TikTok. Mica Soellner, Washington Examiner, "Missouri attorney general to investigate another religious boarding school after girls' school owners charged with abuse," 23 Mar. 2021 Radice has denied knowing anything about abuse, or impeding the probe. Nicole Winfield, Star Tribune, "Ex-Vatican altar boy testifies in seminary sex abuse trial," 17 Mar. 2021 Mia has steadfastly denied coercing Dylan into lying about abuse and later won custody. Kc Baker, PEOPLE.com, "Prosecutor in Dylan Farrow's Sexual Abuse Allegation Case Against Woody Allen Reveals Why He Believes Her," 17 Mar. 2021 Jim had confided in his school guidance counselor about the abuse at the time and was instructed to say ten Hail Marys and never speak of it again. Rachel Monroe, Vulture, "The Criminal Minds of Jim and Tim," 15 Mar. 2021 At her confirmation hearing tomorrow, Vanita Gupta should be asked about her abuse of the Vacancies Act while working for Obama. Thomas A. Berry, National Review, "How a Would-Be Biden Official Abused Her Power during the Obama Administration," 8 Mar. 2021 At the start of the pandemic, Statistics Canada reported that one in 10 women were extremely concerned about domestic abuse during lockdown. Carli Whitwell, refinery29.com, "Violence Against Women Has Reached Crisis Levels. So Where’s The Outrage, Canada?," 8 Mar. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb But the Supreme Court said District Court Judge Jennifer Coleman Hesson did not abuse her discretion in finding the opposite. Ed White, Detroit Free Press, "Brothers cleared after winning court decision in Trenton mom's death," 3 Apr. 2021 Having been rightly trusted not to abuse his access, Mr. Bailey wastes none of it. Sam Sacks, WSJ, "‘Philip Roth’ Review: Zuckerman’s Complaint," 2 Apr. 2021 Because smoking overlaps with many other forms of addiction, the data on quit attempts is being closely watched by doctors who treat people who abuse drugs and alcohol, many of whom also suffer from depression and anxiety. Matthew Perrone, Star Tribune, "Did COVID-19 stress, uncertainty stall anti-smoking push?," 28 Mar. 2021 Simon, at a news conference Friday, asked that residents not abuse the loose guidelines for at-risk people by faking eligibility. Colleen Shalby, Los Angeles Times, "Millions more Californians will be eligible for COVID-19 vaccine. But they face obstacles," 13 Mar. 2021 There will still be bosses who abuse their power, Graves says. Charisse Jones, USA TODAY, "'People came forward': Andrew Cuomo harassment allegations show the success of #MeToo and the challenges ahead," 4 Mar. 2021 The appeals court ruled Failla did not abuse her discretion in making that ruling. Steve Bittenbender, Washington Examiner, "Federal appeals court turns back challenge to disclosure of New York law enforcement disciplinary records," 17 Feb. 2021 The 8th Circuit panel, with one justice dissenting, found that the lower court did not abuse her discretion in the decision to modify the longstanding court orders and consent decrees. Cynthia Howell, Arkansas Online, "8th Circuit rules in Arkansas school choice case," 1 Jan. 2021 The papers caused reputational damage to the city, exposing how open its financial system and corporate services sector are to abuse. Joshua Berlinger, CNN, "The Wan Chai connection: The Washington-accused drug lords, gun runners and dictators' financiers tied to one Hong Kong district," 10 Dec. 2020

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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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

9 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Abuse.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/abuse. Accessed 12 Apr. 2021.

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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
3a : masturbate
b : to subject to abuse and especially to rape or indecent assault

Other Words from abuse

abusable \ -​ˈbyü-​zə-​bəl How to pronounce abuse (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

Nglish: Translation of abuse for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of abuse for Arabic Speakers

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