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 Child Protective Services continues to investigate allegations of child abuse and neglect during the pandemic. Madalyn Mendoza, ExpressNews.com, "As CPS continues home visits, 12 in the agency test positive for COVID-19," 10 Apr. 2020 At the same time, caseworkers who continue to do certain work in person, such as investigate reports of child abuse and neglect, do not have access to personal protective equipment such as N95 masks through work, according to agency officials. oregonlive, "Multiple Oregon child welfare workers have COVID-19, officials tell co-workers," 10 Apr. 2020 Coronado was booked into the Fourth Avenue Jail on 11 counts of child abuse and is being held on a $300,000 bond. Perry Vandell, azcentral, "Man arrested on suspicion of torturing his girlfriend's children with stun gun, pliers," 10 Apr. 2020 Others are dealing with sudden income loss, inability to escape abuse, health challenges, etc. The Washington Post, "Carolyn Hax Live: Gusbombing," 10 Apr. 2020 As Daniel endures torture and abuse, the journalist must track down the shady undercover cops benefiting off the conspiracy, while also fighting for Daniel’s freedom. Mia Galuppo, The Hollywood Reporter, "Saban Films Acquires Josh Hartnett Starrer 'Most Wanted'," 9 Apr. 2020 That’s the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric condition after substance abuse, on par with that of childhood leukemia. Jennifer Couzin-frankel, Science | AAAS, "Rethinking anorexia: Biology may be more important than culture, new studies reveal," 9 Apr. 2020 Many agencies, seeking to limit the virus’s spread, have cut back on in-person inspections at homes of children considered at risk of abuse and neglect. NBC News, "Photo: New beginnings in Hong Kong," 31 Mar. 2020 The problem is really a mixture of poverty, mental illness, substance abuse, criminality, vagrancy and a certain percentage that could honestly do other things, but they, for various reasons, choose to live that way. Anchorage Daily News, "14 questions: Anchorage Assembly candidate Christine Hill," 28 Mar. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb But data collected by governments can also be abused by governments – or their private-sector partners. Matt O'brien And Christina Larson, The Christian Science Monitor, "Test, trace, isolate: Role of apps in combating coronavirus," 5 May 2020 The man had for nine years abused two of his step children as well as his step-granddaughter. Arizona Republic, "Bisbee man confesses he's molesting his daughter. Church tells bishop not to report abuse to authorities," 21 Apr. 2020 More than 350 girls and women — including Olympic gymnastics champions Simone Biles, Aly Raisman and Gabby Douglas — have said Nassar abused them under the guise of medical treatment. USA Today, "San Jose State reinvestigates claims athletic trainer inappropriately touched swimmers," 17 Apr. 2020 People trust each other not to abuse handouts; citizens trust their government to use tax dollars efficiently in supplying services such as housing, child care and higher education that citizens might otherwise get from... Holman W. Jenkins, WSJ, "Sweden Is a Viral Punching Bag," 14 Apr. 2020 The company admitted that it had illegally promoted misleading claims that its product was not as addictive and had less potential to be abused than rival narcotic pain medications. Gerald Posner, Wired, "The Mom Who Took on Purdue Pharma for Its OxyContin Marketing," 23 Mar. 2020 If permitted, the seizure of authority proposed in these Justice Department papers will be abused in concert with all manner of national emergency declarations. Bonnie Kristian, TheWeek, "Beware the emergency power grab," 23 Mar. 2020 Raised in poverty by parents who allowed an adult friend to abuse him, Wallace left home in search of reprieve. Eren Orbey, The New Yorker, "“Real Life” Is a New Kind of Campus Novel," 19 Feb. 2020 But a viewer quickly wonders: What kind of administrators would allow patients to be abused while a film crew is around? John Defore, The Hollywood Reporter, "'The Mole Agent': Film Review | Sundance 2020," 27 Jan. 2020

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

14 Apr 2020

Cite this Entry

“Abuse.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/abuse. Accessed 25 May. 2020.

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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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