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

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. See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun James Dixson and Kevin McKinney, both 42, are accused of capital murder, arson, abuse of a corpse and possession of a firearm by a certain person, according to Pine Bluff Police Department Lt. David DeFoor. I.c. Murrell, Arkansas Online, 4 Aug. 2022 Pascua-Reyes faces one count of first-degree kidnapping, three counts of capital murder and two counts of abuse of a corpse. Tristan Balagtas, Peoplemag, 3 Aug. 2022 In 2002, the Boston Globe published articles that drew national attention to the issue of abuse of children by Catholic priests, resulting in a number of civil and criminal cases. Niraj Warikoo, Detroit Free Press, 3 Aug. 2022 Pascual-Reyes, 37, was arrested in Auburn, Ala., and charged with first-degree kidnapping, three counts of capital murder and two counts of abuse of corpse. Timothy Bella, Washington Post, 3 Aug. 2022 The affair between Clinton and then-22-year-old Lewinsky ultimately led to Clinton's impeachment in 1998 and much discussion about consent and abuse of power. Lisa Respers France, CNN, 3 Aug. 2022 Russia blamed Ukraine for the strike; Ukraine authorities said Russia set off the blast to cover up abuse of prisoners. John Bacon, USA TODAY, 3 Aug. 2022 The 37-year-old man is charged with first-degree kidnapping in connection with the young girl and three counts of capital murder and two counts of abuse of a corpse in connection with the bodies. Carol Robinson | Crobinson@al.com, al, 2 Aug. 2022 Tor is also working to stop the potential abuse of bridges. Wired, 29 July 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Never underestimate the ability of government to abuse power if given the opportunity. WSJ, 26 May 2022 The suit alleges that the Isaackses were able to abuse their positions because of a lack of oversight and training by Little League Baseball. NBC News, 2 Mar. 2022 Since Johnson himself was under investigation for decorating his Downing Street flat with sinfully expensive furnishings paid for by a Tory donor, the implication was Johnson would abuse his majority to escape any punishment. Christiaan Hetzner, Fortune, 7 July 2022 Brooks defended his pardon request by saying Democrats could abuse the judicial process by prosecuting Republicans. Katherine Swartz, USA TODAY, 28 June 2022 There was concern Democrats would abuse the judicial system by prosecuting and jailing Republicans who acted pursuant to their Constitutional or statutory duties under (federal election law). Howard Koplowitz | Hkoplowitz@al.com, al, 27 June 2022 Some believe that some iPhone users may abuse the edit/unsend features. Chris Smith, BGR, 23 June 2022 Yet fears that some might abuse the credit may also be sapping support for it. New York Times, 5 Jan. 2022 As a little boy, M had watched his dad abuse his mom for years, according to treatment records. ProPublica, 9 June 2022 See More

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.

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

Learn More About abuse

Time Traveler for abuse

Time Traveler

The first known use of abuse was in the 15th century

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near abuse

abusage

abuse

abused

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Statistics for abuse

Last Updated

7 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Abuse.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/abuse. Accessed 7 Aug. 2022.

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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

abuse

transitive verb
\ 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

abuse

transitive verb
\ 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

More from Merriam-Webster on abuse

Nglish: Translation of abuse for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of abuse for Arabic Speakers

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