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

But in 2005, CPS removed the siblings from the Davises' care—due in large part to Sherry's record of substance abuse—and placed them in the Texas foster care system. Glamour, "Broken Harts, Episode 6: "Beautiful Black Boys"," 15 Jan. 2019 These choices will be limited, and acts of abuse and violence will be prohibited. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "For Halloween This Year, MIT Is Letting the Internet Control a Person," 29 Oct. 2018 Studies have found similarly that alcohol abuse and underage drinking is prevalent in affluent communities like the one Kavanaugh grew up in. Jennifer Wright, Harper's BAZAAR, "The Benefits of Privilege: Being Rich and White Is Proof You Must Be Good," 5 Oct. 2018 The remaining genes are often associated with various forms of substance abuse and various psychiatric disorders. John Timmer, Ars Technica, "Researchers ID genes that could make you more likely to try cannabis," 28 Aug. 2018 In an effort to promote substance abuse and mental health services, HBO will be including a statement at the end of every Sharp Objects episode. Jessica Fecteau, PEOPLE.com, "A PSA About Self-Harm and Substance Abuse Will Air at the End of Every Sharp Objects Episode," 11 July 2018 Mainstream veganism—like mainstream wellness and nutrition—does not often cover the abuse that brown and black and immigrant folks are going through within the capitalist cycle. Amy Quichiz, SELF, "10 Vegans of Color on What Being Vegan Means to Them," 6 Jan. 2019 Were Jen and Sarah running from a longer tail of child abuse allegations? Glamour, "Broken Harts, Episode 4: ‘My God, There’s Six of Them’," 31 Dec. 2018 And the site's community managers bore the brunt of the abuse. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "Book tells the inside story of how Reddit came to be the Internet’s “id”," 30 Dec. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

These are people who talk about having diaries of how long they’ve been [abused]. Ashley Edwards Walker, Good Housekeeping, "What Is Estrangement — And Should You Consider It?," 21 Dec. 2018 Some of the justices were accused of abusing their authority by failing to rein in excessive spending. John Raby, The Seattle Times, "West Virginia Senate mulls next steps in impeachment drama," 28 Nov. 2018 Loughry, Walker and Workman all face charges of abusing authority by failing to control office expenses and not maintaining policies about the use of state vehicles, office computers at home and other matters. Fox News, "West Virginia House speaker Armstead resigns to run for Supreme Court," 22 Aug. 2018 Page has accused the government of abusing its authority by unfairly targeting him. The Washington Post, NOLA.com, "Secret FBI source for Russia probe met with 3 Trump advisers during campaign," 19 May 2018 Steven Becomes a Hero Parnell continued to abuse Steven for years, telling the boy that his parents weren't looking for him. Selena Barrientos, Good Housekeeping, "The True Story Behind Cary Stayner's Murders and His Brother Steven's Legacy," 25 Jan. 2019 Prosecutors also said the priest attempted to abuse a second boy starting in 2003, when the child was 15. Kris Maher, WSJ, "Priest Cited in Pennsylvania Abuse Report Sentenced to Up to 14 Years in Prison," 11 Jan. 2019 The crime of aggravated breach of trust—the formal name for abusing one’s executive position for personal gain—carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a fine of ¥10 million ($92,000) in Japan. Sean Mclain, WSJ, "Carlos Ghosn Is Charged Again, Setting Up Bail Hearing," 11 Jan. 2019 Here’s field reporter, Lauren Smiley, with the DeKalbs: Devonte eventually opens up to the DeKalbs, stating that he and his siblings are being abused by Jen and Sarah. Glamour, "Broken Harts, Episode 4: ‘My God, There’s Six of Them’," 31 Dec. 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

18 Feb 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 \

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
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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