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

Officers who interview those seeking asylum at the border and review refugee applications have been directed to immediately reject claims based on fears of gang violence and domestic abuse, CNN reported on Thursday. Sarah Kinosian, Teen Vogue, "Reunification Proves Complicated for Families Separated at the U.S.-Mexico Border," 14 July 2018 Late 2017 and early 2018 brought one obstacle after another: damage from Hurricane Irma, allegations of animal abuse, the death of one of its most beloved animals. Chabeli Herrera, miamiherald, "Monkey Jungle has reopened. Here is what has happened since the animal-abuse allegations.," 12 July 2018 In 2016, 46 children lost their lives as a result of abuse, the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services reported. Josh Magness, star-telegram, "Teens were 'laughing hysterically' as they terrorized 1-year-old with a Taser, cops say," 10 July 2018 After a night in jail, he was charged with three counts of breach of trust and one of abuse of power, all tied to the disappearance of billions of dollars from 1MDB, a state development fund. The Economist, "Malaysia’s former prime minister is charged with breach of trust," 5 July 2018 The then 13-year-old victim was hesitant to provide details of the abuse, the DA said, but eventually shared that her stepfather had molested her on several occasions. Julia Sclafani, sacbee, "West Sacramento man sentenced to 72 years for molesting stepdaughter," 29 June 2018 Over the years, there were numerous reports of emotional and physical abuse, including accusations by the children themselves, including Michael. Ryan Parker, The Hollywood Reporter, "Joe Jackson, Michael's Father and Patriarch of the Jackson 5, Dies at 89," 27 June 2018 The decade-long journey that included neglect, abuse, drugs, near-madness, alienation, dislocation, fanatical faith, escapes through jungles and deserts, and some high adventure now took root on Oahu’s North Shore in Hawaii. Paul Theroux, Smithsonian, "The Epic Quest to Ride the World’s Biggest Wave," 27 June 2018 The National Center for PTSD estimates that about 15 to 43 percent of people go through at least one trauma in childhood, from witnessing violence in their communities to experiencing a car crash, child abuse, or a natural disaster. Rebecca Lurye, Courant Community, "Hackathon To Shape Hartford's Plan To Aid Traumatized Youth," 22 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Some said Hinton repeatedly abused Tortice, both physically and mentally. Felicia Fonseca, The Seattle Times, "Arizona man sentenced to 8 years in death of teen girlfriend," 10 July 2018 The Orlando Police Department plans to continue its test of Amazon’s facial recognition software, despite outcry from civil rights groups concerned that the technology could be abused. Ryan Gillespie, OrlandoSentinel.com, "Orlando police plan to extend test of Amazon facial-recognition software," 9 July 2018 Last month, Michigan State University agreed to pay $500 million to women Nassar abused while working at the university. Julyssa Lopez, Glamour, "Former Team USA Gymnastics Doctor Larry Nassar Has Been Charged With Sexual Assault in Texas," 30 June 2018 More than 300 women and girls have come forward to allege they were abused by Nassar, including Olympic champions Simone Biles, Aly Raisman, Gabby Douglas, Jordyn Wieber and McKayla Maroney. Rachel Axon, USA TODAY, "USOC names new CEO at critical time for Olympic movement," 12 July 2018 But the report also prompted women who said they had been abused by the Sakyong to come forward, providing material for the second report, released June 28. Andy Newman, New York Times, "The ‘King’ of Shambhala Buddhism Is Undone by Abuse Report," 11 July 2018 Gahan told police in an initial interview in March that Tebo did not tell him one student had claimed he had been abused, and was under the impression that both stated nothing had happened. Nicole Aimone, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Waukesha School District administrator didn't report student's sexual assault, complaint says," 6 July 2018 Fischer suspended the program in March 2017 after the Courier Journal reported details from a lawsuit by a former Scout who alleged that he had been abused by two police officers and that the department had covered it up. Phillip M. Bailey, The Courier-Journal, "Louisville mayor, chief: No plan to bring back Explorer Scouts," 28 June 2018 Roderick MacLeish, a Cambridge lawyer who represents five former students who say they were abused by Buono, said Milton police interviewed some of his clients in the past year. Laura Crimaldi, BostonGlobe.com, "Ex-Milton Academy teacher accused of rape is back in US," 27 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

16 Sep 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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Comments on abuse

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