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 \ -​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

Going on for years, originally brought by Crooked Hillary’s Campaign Chair, A.G. Eric Schneiderman, until forced to resign for abuse against women. NBC News, "Trump fumes about Cuomo, New York A.G. over state investigations," 1 July 2019 Heritage Funeral director Joseph Lee Bonner-Bey was arrested at the grave site Wednesday for abuse of two of the corpses, according to jail records. Christopher Harress | Charress@al.com, al.com, "Second arrest made in abuse of corpse case at Mobile cemetery," 28 June 2019 Office 365 users understandably want new, helpful features, but every new component also opens up potential risk for abuse. Lily Hay Newman, WIRED, "How Hackers Turn Microsoft Excel's Own Features Against It," 27 June 2019 Further consolidation serves as an invitation for abuse by the few remaining mobile phone companies. Max Kornblith, The Mercury News, "Opinion: Proposed T-Mobile-Sprint merger would hurt consumers," 27 June 2019 Subsequent laws increased criminal penalties, and the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 classified marijuana as having no acceptable medical use and high potential for abuse. Luke Broadwater, baltimoresun.com, "Maryland task force begins work on potential legalization of marijuana," 25 June 2019 Letting anyone collect that data leaves it ripe for abuse by bullies, spies and hackers. Geoffrey A. Fowler, The Denver Post, "Review: Google Chrome has become surveillance software. It’s time to switch.," 23 June 2019 In the first game of the second set, Brinkman received a point penalty for ball abuse. Andrew Turner, latimes.com, "Jett Cole beats Brett Brinkman, advances to semifinals of USTA SoCal Junior Sectionals," 22 June 2019 Letting anyone collect that data leaves it ripe for abuse by bullies, spies and hackers. Anchorage Daily News, "Google Chrome has become surveillance software. It’s time to switch.," 22 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Peng Feng of the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences warns that the use of the credit system is overkill, raising a risk that officials will abuse their power. The Economist, "Cheerleaders and police usher in a new era of trash-sorting," 4 July 2019 Bitcoin and Libra aren’t all that different under the hood, so there’s a realistic concern that bad actors might abuse Facebook’s crypto, too. Matthew De Silva, Quartz, "Russia is strangely calm about Facebook’s cryptocurrency," 4 July 2019 On July 30, 2018, Troiano denied the waiver to try the teenager as an adult, arguing that prosecutors had abused their discretion. Luis Ferré-sadurní, BostonGlobe.com, "Teenager accused of rape deserves leniency because he’s from ‘good family,’ judge says," 3 July 2019 Ethics watchdogs say Trump is abusing presidential power and ignoring guardrails that have constrained his predecessors. Noah Bierman, latimes.com, "Trump uses the trappings of the White House for reelection bid to unprecedented degree," 3 July 2019 On July 30, 2018, Judge Troiano denied the waiver to try the teenager as an adult, arguing that prosecutors had abused their discretion. Luis Ferré-sadurní, New York Times, "Teenager Accused of Rape Deserves Leniency Because He’s From a ‘Good Family,’ Judge Says," 2 July 2019 During Michael Madison’s trial, defense attorneys said that Diane Madison abused her son throughout his childhood. Adam Ferrise, cleveland.com, "Man charged in slaying of serial killer Michael Madison’s mother, stabbing of three sleeping kids in Cleveland," 24 June 2019 The overall charge that the president had abused his office depended on it. Michael Kazin, The New Republic, "The Impossibility of Impeachment," 10 June 2019 From 1992 to 2001, the Department of Justice investigated whether Microsoft was abusing its market power with the Windows operating system to push consumers to use its Internet Explorer web browser. Madeleine Joung, Time, "Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple Could Face Antitrust Investigations. How Do Those Work?," 5 June 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 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

8 Jul 2019

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 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 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

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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