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

In 2009, Rihanna could have easily become the face of victimhood, having become a survivor of domestic abuse at the hands of Chris Brown. Kathryn Lindsay, refinery29.com, "Why Be Engaged When You Can Be An Ex?," 13 July 2018 There also is substantial and credible information that the President's actions with respect to Monica Lewinsky constitute an abuse of authority inconsistent with the President's constitutional duty to faithfully execute the laws. Aaron Blake, Washington Post, "Brett Kavanaugh, Trump and what the Starr Report says about impeachment, annotated," 11 July 2018 Then in May, during a Times interview with the cast of Arrested Development (on which Cross plays Tobias Fünke), the conversation turned to the actor Jeffrey Tambor’s violent verbal abuse of his co-star Jessica Walter. Lisa Miller, The Cut, "The Weaponized Amber Tamblyn," 8 July 2018 The agency began cracking down on scofflaws in 2017, following years of abuse of the blue placards. Cynthia Hubert, sacbee, "Disabled placard violations soar in California. Here's where scofflaws were targeted," 6 July 2018 Top White House advisers have been encouraging Trump to dismiss Pruitt for months, amid mounting allegations of unethical conduct, improper spending and abuses of power. Bloomberg, Fortune, "Scott Pruitt Is Devastated That White House Forced Him to Resign EPA Post, Sources Say," 6 July 2018 But in my book, this is an abuse of the freedom a motorcycle gives you. Bill Hartford, Popular Mechanics, "My First Year on a Motorcycle," 15 Feb. 2019 He is charged with 42 counts of criminal breach of trust, graft, abuse of power and money laundering in one of Malaysia’s biggest criminal trials. Eileen Ng, The Seattle Times, "Malaysian ex-PM Najib combative ahead of 1MDB graft trial," 11 Feb. 2019 Even many critics of Snowden admit that the NSA's Telephone Records Program, conducted under Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act, was a major intrusion into the privacy of American citizens and was an abuse of the FISC orders. Sean Gallagher, Ars Technica, "The Snowden Legacy, part one: What’s changed, really?," 21 Nov. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

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 Microsoft wasn’t the only company that was accused of abusing a huge consumer network to lock out a competitor. Adi Robertson, The Verge, "How the antitrust battles of the ‘90s set the stage for today’s tech giants," 6 Sep. 2018 The president of the University of Southern California, C. L. Max Nikias, is stepping down in the wake of a scandal over a gynecologist accused of abusing students at the campus health center. Kristen Bellstrom, Fortune, "SoulCycle IPO, Ireland Legalizes Abortion: Broadsheet May 29," 29 May 2018 The organization is facing dozens of lawsuits, accused of turning a blind eye to Nassar's years of abusing athletes. Scooby Axson, SI.com, "Report: USA Gymnastics Approved Cover Stories For Larry Nassar Amid Sex Abuse Probe," 24 May 2018 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

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 Mar 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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