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 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 Workers seek jobs at popular and well-reviewed restaurants and are often loath to speak out about verbal or other abuse. oregonlive, "Chef who rocked Portland restaurant industry now faces reckoning of her own," 10 July 2020 The record opens with an emotional skit featuring audio of the star talking about anxiety and substance abuse, and sharing an encouraging message to fans. Rob Picheta, CNN, "Juice WRLD's posthumous album 'Legends Never Die' drops, leaving fans emotional," 10 July 2020 As the church again reckoned with its longtime crisis, abuse reports tripled during the year ending June 2019 to a total of nearly 4,500 nationally. CBS News, "After lobbying, Catholic Church won $1.4 billion in coronavirus aid," 10 July 2020 Public health experts are also increasingly concerned about the toll on children’s well-being, with many depending on schools to provide everything from nutritious meals to safeguards against abuse. Brett Murphy, USA TODAY, "Trump attacks his own CDC scientists over how to reopen schools safely," 10 July 2020 Trump’s siblings, Mary reveals that the president’s early life was defined by neglect and psychological abuse. Alex Shephard, The New Republic, "Mary Trump Diagnoses the President," 10 July 2020 Like many young talents in the entertainment industry, Winter struggled with grueling hours, frequent bouts of isolation and insecurity, and the dangers of exploitation and even abuse. René A. Guzman, ExpressNews.com, "‘Bill & Ted’ star Alex Winter talks about his new HBO documentary ‘Showbiz Kids’," 10 July 2020 As the church again reckoned with its longtime crisis, abuse reports tripled during the year ending June 2019 to a total of nearly 4,500 nationally. Reese Dunklin, Michael Rezendes, Anchorage Daily News, "Scandal-plagued Catholic Church lobbied heavily to get $1.4 billion in taxpayer-backed pandemic aid," 10 July 2020 Thanks to the global movement for Black Lives, there is more momentum right now for finally reining in police abuse than there has been in decades. Tawana Petty, Wired, "Defending Black Lives Means Banning Facial Recognition," 10 July 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Gitau says authorities must know that perpetrators often take advantage of the strict measures to abuse victims without arousing much suspicion. Bukola Adebayo, CNN, "She's on the frontline of a rape epidemic. The pandemic has made her work more dangerous," 23 June 2020 After Nassar left the team, no one disclosed the reason for his departure to Michigan State University, and the school allowed the former doctor to continue to abuse girls and young women as an osteopathic surgeon. Molly Longman, refinery29.com, "Simone Biles Is A Plaintiff In Sex Abuse Lawsuit Against USA Gymnastics," 18 June 2020 For years, Maye escaped into fantasy worlds where men didn’t abuse women, where men were caring and chivalrous and gentle. Hallie Lieberman, Wired, "The Musk of Romance," 11 June 2020 The Trump administration pulled the United States out of the council two years ago amid accusations that it was biased against Israel and counted some repressive or autocratic regimes that abuse human rights as members. Time, "Civil Rights Groups Urge U.N. Human Rights Council to ‘Urgently’ Meet on U.S. Police Violence," 9 June 2020 But both shift leaders denied hitting Smith or seeing anyone abuse him, and both failed to return calls and letters seeking comment. al, "Alabama prison guards allegedly beat, hog-tied, ignored inmate who later died: Secret report," 7 June 2020 One result of shelter-in-place orders during the coronavirus pandemic is to confine some household members with others who abuse them. Bob Egelko, SFChronicle.com, "Domestic violence shelters in SF, elsewhere see rise in calls, severity of violence," 5 June 2020 Call for those who abuse power —including and especially the police — to be held accountable for their actions. Rhonda Abrams, USA TODAY, "George Floyd: What small business owners can do to be community allies in a time of protest," 4 June 2020 Police officers who abuse their power have to be held accountable, just like in any other profession. Gregory L. Moore, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Opinion: Police swagger and disrespect when it comes to people of color must end," 3 June 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

13 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Abuse.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/abuse. Accessed 13 Jul. 2020.

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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
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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for abuse

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with abuse

Spanish Central: Translation of abuse

Nglish: Translation of abuse for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of abuse for Arabic Speakers

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