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 He was ordered to stay away from Marie and Black Lab Sports, relinquish all firearms and participate in a substance-abuse monitoring program. USA Today, "A retired NFL player, a bizarre shooting and claims of CTE," 28 Apr. 2021 Disruptive behavior and substance abuse disorders were the most common. Darcel Rockett, chicagotribune.com, "Untreated psychiatric disorders in arrested juveniles linger 15 years past incarceration, Northwestern study finds," 27 Apr. 2021 The Biden administration will lift barriers to healthcare providers treating opioid use disorder with buprenorphine, a drug shown to reduce the risk of overdose and death, amid the worsening drug abuse crisis. Cassidy Morrison, Washington Examiner, "Biden administration liberalizes use of addiction treatment buprenorphine amid opioid crisis," 27 Apr. 2021 The Capuchin Soup Kitchen provides hot meals daily through two soup kitchen sites, emergency food and clothing, children’s and youth programs, a program for men coming out of prison, substance abuse treatment program, and an urban farm program. Susan Selasky, Detroit Free Press, "Buddy’s Pizza benefit for Capuchin Soup Kitchen is back. Here’s how to donate," 26 Apr. 2021 Nonprofits that provide services to child abuse victims saw a more than 40% increase in children served in 2020 over 2019, data shows. Ginny Monk, Arkansas Online, "Child abuse centers note rise in '20 cases," 25 Apr. 2021 Sage Hopkins, who filed the lawsuit last month, alleges SJSU and its administrators covered up the abuse claims while engaging in a retaliatory campaign to discredit him. Kenny Jacoby, USA TODAY, "San Jose State whistleblower sues school over handling of sex abuse scandal; retaliation," 24 Apr. 2021 Communities in Oregon have claimed success in diverting 911 calls for mental health and substance abuse programs to counselors rather than police. BostonGlobe.com, "They say reimagine the police. What would that look like?," 24 Apr. 2021 The federal drug agency wants your unused or expired prescriptions for its 20th National Prescription Take Back Day on Saturday -- to help ensure homes are safe from drug abuse. Aya Elamroussi, CNN, "The DEA wants your unused prescription drugs," 24 Apr. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Mare’s actions as defensible, the series nods at the countless ways in which cops can abuse their powers. Sophie Gilbert, The Atlantic, "What HBO’s New Crime Show Gets Exactly Right," 21 Apr. 2021 Diski was born in London in 1947, the daughter of working-class immigrant Jews, who subjected her, together and separately, to neglect and abuse. Ann Levin, Star Tribune, "Review: New collection of columns by the late Jenny Diski," 19 Apr. 2021 That’s still plenty of information that some people might abuse. Chris Smith, BGR, "Facebook will note tell you if your data has been compromised in massive breach," 8 Apr. 2021 That some of the concepts disputed over fancy wine, such as the justification of violence or how leaders abuse their powers, leave the hypothetical for the practical under their privileged noses, stands as the film’s most compelling observation. Carlos Aguilar, Los Angeles Times, "Review: Romanian director Cristi Puiu’s ‘Malmkrog’ is a dense treatise in fancy dress," 8 Apr. 2021 Nietzsche even wrote a whole treatise on who to use and abuse history. Philip Elliott, Time, "Matt Gaetz Gets Headlines for the Scandals. He Should Worry About the Receipts," 2 Apr. 2021 Why is my company allowing poor leaders who target, bully and abuse our employees to remain in coveted leadership positions? Berta Aldrich, Forbes, "Three Invisible Barriers To High-Performing, Diverse Teams (And How To Remove Them)," 10 Mar. 2021 Some schools have health centers that offer substance misuse or abuse support services. Kristen Rogers, CNN, "High schoolers who misuse prescription opioids are at higher risk for suicidal behaviors, study finds," 5 Mar. 2021 The service offers textbook rentals and online tutoring, but critics argue that students abuse the site. Peter Aitken, Fox News, "Texas, Chicago universities see rise in cheating during remote learning," 18 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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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

3 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Abuse.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/abuse. Accessed 10 May. 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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