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 Neglected and abandoned, Red, a rescue dog, showed clear signs of physical abuse, as he was found two years ago with cigarette burns on his underside. Michelle Iracheta, Houston Chronicle, "Liberty County pup Red sworn in as K-9 Deputy Dog," 6 Dec. 2019 This week, the House passed separate legislation that would punish Chinese officials for its abuse of Muslims and ethnic minorities in the Xinjiang region. Alan Rappeport, New York Times, "U.S. Objects to World Bank’s Lending Plans for China," 5 Dec. 2019 Unlike in poorer countries, where impure drinking water or infectious disease take a large toll, our premature deaths arise from drug addiction, alcohol abuse, and suicide. Mona Charen, National Review, "Red-State Death, Blue-State Health?," 5 Dec. 2019 Jeb Bush enacting tough restrictions that protect private property owners from eminent-domain abuse, including barring governments from selling land acquired through eminent domain to a private party for 10 years. Martin E. Comas, orlandosentinel.com, "Casselberry seizes shopping center through eminent domain. Owner says $800K isn’t enough, asks for more.," 5 Dec. 2019 Inter Milan’s Romelu Lukaku has also been subjected to multiple instances of racist abuse, which fans and administrators alike have dismissed as not being that big a deal, or a misunderstanding, or just the actions of a few bad apples. Nate Scott, For The Win, "Italian soccer is dealing with a massive racism problem. Then a major soccer newspaper wrote a super racist headline.," 5 Dec. 2019 The other seven accusers say their abuse by Epstein started between 2000 and 2007. Frank Miles, Fox News, "Nine more women accuse Jeffrey Epstein of sex abuse dating back to 1985," 4 Dec. 2019 The abuse lasted from 2012 until this year when Patrico German Parodi, 34, of Davie was taken into custody and charged, according to an arrest report. Wayne K. Roustan, sun-sentinel.com, "Man sexually abused, coerced and threatened girls for seven years, cops say," 4 Dec. 2019 The list of harms starts with malnourishment, dental trauma, STIs, post-traumatic stress disorder, suicidal ideation, substance abuse, dissociation, addiction, anxiety, and depression. Ane Mathieson And Alexi Ashe Meyers, Marie Claire, "Decriminalizing the Sex Trade Isn't the Answer—The Equality Model Is," 25 Nov. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Not everyone who was abused will necessarily have problems or need treatment. David Finkelhor, The Conversation, "How universal childhood trauma screenings could backfire," 21 Nov. 2019 And then the White House learned that a whistleblower had filed a complaint alleging that the president may have abused his power in pressuring Ukraine. Anchorage Daily News, "Sondland says he told Pence that Ukraine military aid appeared conditioned on political investigations," 20 Nov. 2019 The mechanism therefore gives rise to a special relationship between site and user, one that could at some point be abused. Wired, "Opinion: Websites Ask for Permissions And Attack Forgiveness," 19 Nov. 2019 That August, a column in the New York Post opinion section criticized media reports that OxyContin was being abused. David Armstrong, ProPublica, "Inside Purdue Pharma’s Media Playbook: How It Planted the Opioid “Anti-Story”," 19 Nov. 2019 Phillips and other animal rights activists alleged that the calf was being abused or neglected at Braglio Farms when it was picked up and taken to the animal sanctuary. Cody Boteler, baltimoresun.com, "Harassment charge dropped against animal sanctuary owner who hosted calf stolen from Baltimore County farm," 14 Nov. 2019 The Church of Scientology has faced massive scrutiny and vilification for decades, with critics accusing it of being a cult that has exploited and abused its members. Jeremy Pelzer, cleveland, "Ohio lawmakers congratulate Church of Scientology on opening new Columbus location," 12 Nov. 2019 Proceeds from the festival benefited Be A Resource for CPS Kids (BEAR), a non-profit organization that provides hope and help for abused and neglected children in Harris County. Marcy De Luna, Houston Chronicle, "Houston top chefs cook up good time at Risotto Festival," 10 Nov. 2019 Leeds United goalkeeper Kiko Casilla could be facing a 12-match ban if he is found guilty by the FA of racially abusing Charlton forward Jonathan Leko, when the two sides met back in September. SI.com, "Kiko Casilla Facing 12-Match Ban as Leeds & Former Real Madrid Keeper Accused of Racism," 3 Nov. 2019

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

9 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Abuse.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/abuser. Accessed 9 December 2019.

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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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