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

Two Reuters journalists jailed in Myanmar after reporting on the military’s abuses against the ethnic Rohingya minority were freed Tuesday as part of a presidential amnesty for more than 6,000 prisoners. Jon Emont, WSJ, "Myanmar Frees Reuters Reporters Jailed Over Rohingya Coverage," 7 May 2019 Now Cosby is in prison, and the #MeToo movement has prompted an even greater reexamination of the abuses faced by women in the movie industry. Anna North, Vox, "The disturbing story behind the rape scene in Bernardo Bertolucci’s Last Tango in Paris, explained," 26 Nov. 2018 But part of the problem is not just their understandable unpreparedness for such a role and less understandable early turning of a blind eye to the abuses on their networks, but also the very design of them. Andrew Liptak, The Verge, "A military expert explains why social media is the new battlefield," 12 Oct. 2018 Since the outbreak, the number of participants enrolled in substance abuse recovery groups in Scott County has increased by 500%. Melody Warnick, Woman's Day, "These Small-Town Heroes Are Helping Their Communities Thrive," 2 Apr. 2019 The resolution also takes issue with Saudi Arabia’s other actions in the region, such as human rights abuses related to its war in Yemen, the diplomatic and economic blockade against Qatar, and the imprisonment of political dissidents. Jen Kirby, Vox, "Read: senators introduce resolution calling Saudi crown prince “complicit” in Khashoggi’s murder," 6 Dec. 2018 Raisman is a believer in the power of therapy to help survivors of abuse develop ways of coping with stress, anxiety, and triggers in everyday life. Tiffany Dodson, SELF, "What We Can Learn About Self-Care From Olympian and Advocate Aly Raisman," 12 Sep. 2018 The legislation Baker signed this month prevents these kinds of abuses by banning the enforcement of noncompete agreements against minors, students, and low-wage workers generally. Timothy B. Lee, Ars Technica, "Massachusetts gives workers new protections against noncompete clauses," 21 Aug. 2018 Under the 36-year leadership of President Paul Biya, the nation has been accused of numerous human rights abuses, including killing unarmed protesters, torturing detainees, shutting off the internet and locking up journalists. New York Times, "In Troubled Cameroon, U.S. Envoy Is Accused of Election Meddling," 12 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Federal court documents filed in September contain accounts of Perrault showering boys with gifts and meals before abusing them. Mary Hudetz, The Seattle Times, "Fugitive priest accused of abusing boy faces trial," 30 Mar. 2019 This launches a tour of O’Reilly's thoughts on platforms and other tech ecosystems—and those who abuse them (exhibit A is Microsoft, exhibit B is Twitter, followed by an entire alphabet of rogues). Rob Reid, Ars Technica, "Ars on your lunch break: Tim O‘Reilly discusses the birth of “open source”," 1 Aug. 2018 Related stories from Fort Worth Star Telegram Women say ex-Fort Worth youth pastor abused them as teens. Deanna Boyd And Sarah Smith, star-telegram, "He quit in June. Now Southern Baptist leader is charged in teen's 1997 sexual assault," 9 July 2018 Also charged is Debbie Van Horn, a longtime trainer who gymnast Mattie Larson said was in the room when Nassar abused her. Rachel Axon, USA TODAY, "USA Gymnastics a 'total failure,' according to investigation of famed Karolyi ranch," 29 June 2018 In it, Patterson can be heard telling a story about counseling a woman who said her husband was abusing her. Daniel Burke, CNN, "'A foretaste of the wrath of God:' Southern Baptists to confront scandals at national meeting," 11 June 2018 Known as Nosey's Law, the new legislation honors a 36-year-old elephant who was cruelly abused while performing in a circus. Caroline Hallemann, Town & Country, "Louise Linton Makes a Quiet Return to Instagram," 19 Dec. 2018 While being abused, women can get wet, men can get erections, and many people even orgasm. Vanessa Marin, Allure, "Ask a Sex Therapist: Why Is My Vagina Always So Dry During Sex?," 11 Oct. 2018 The parents of an 18-year-old girl, who allegedly abused her and locked her in her room for months at a time, appeared in court for the first time Thursday. Zachary Hansen, ajc, "Georgia parents allegedly locked 18-year-old daughter in her room for months," 28 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

13 May 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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