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

Christopher Alguin, who had a history of mental illness and substance abuse, pleaded guilty last year to two counts of making a criminal threat with a knife and a hate crime allegation. Lyndsay Winkley, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Hate crimes cataloged: Five years of malice and spite in San Diego County," 30 Aug. 2019 Utt and Tullock’s writing brushes the depths of humanity, including parental neglect, abandonment, domestic abuse and even the complications of estate planning (or lack thereof). Katie Walsh, Los Angeles Times, "Review: ‘Before You Know It’ is a charming but messy take on family love," 29 Aug. 2019 In this feature, these women recount how, at the hands of the families of their deceased husbands, they’ve been subjected to abuse, forced starvation, and other horrors. Ellen Mcgirt, Fortune, "What Would Help Puerto Rico?: raceAhead," 28 Aug. 2019 Faced with these new challenges, the old laws leave many workers without adequate protections against workplace abuses, or even totally exclude some workers from any protections at all. Jeffrey Hirsch, The Conversation, "Worker-protection laws aren’t ready for an automated future," 28 Aug. 2019 The abuse, spanning several years, was devaluing beyond measure and affected my ability to form and maintain healthy relationships, both in my work and my personal life. Emanuella Grinberg, CNN, "Jeffrey Epstein's accusers had their day in court, but not in the way they had hoped for," 27 Aug. 2019 Up to 30 of Epstein's accusers spoke out about their alleged abuse on Tuesday, before a judge who will decide whether the indictment against Epstein will be dropped. Grace Segers, CBS News, "Democratic Women's Caucus calls on Congress to investigate Jeffrey Epstein's death," 27 Aug. 2019 Back in 1975, in the pages of The New York Review of Books, at the height of the congressional hearings into C.I.A. abuses, including MK-ULTRA, the journalist I. F. Stone proposed the abolition of the C.I.A., on grounds not unlike these. Adam Gopnik, The New Yorker, "Are Spies More Trouble Than They’re Worth?," 26 Aug. 2019 The Patriots tight end picture got a little more complicated Saturday when veteran Lance Kendricks was suspended for the season opener for violating the NFL’s policy and program on substance abuse, the league announced. Jim Mcbride, BostonGlobe.com, "Patriots’ Lance Kendricks suspended one game for violating NFL’s drug policy," 24 Aug. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

She had been given a 25-year sentence for abusing her power. The Economist, "Politics this week," 29 Aug. 2019 The suit accuses Sutter, which is headquartered in Sacramento, of abusing its market power to inflate prices. Catherine Ho, SFChronicle.com, "‘Landmark’ antitrust case against Sutter over health prices nears trial," 24 Aug. 2019 The settlement underlines the wide range of customers Wells Fargo has been accused of abusing. Matt Egan, CNN, "Wells Fargo is paying the Navajo Nation $6.5 million to settle allegations of shady sales tactics," 23 Aug. 2019 He was accused of abusing underage girls and of directing some of them to pleasure some of his rich and powerful friends, including Andrew. Martha Ross, The Mercury News, "As Jeffrey Epstein’s houseguest, Prince Andrew received foot massages from young Russian women, author reveals," 23 Aug. 2019 If convicted of abusing the 1-year-old, Hill faces up to 10 years in prison. Ashley Remkus | Aremkus@al.com, al, "Man accused of abusing 1-year-old girl, blaming injuries on 4-year-old," 14 Aug. 2019 But the Boy Scouts of America were named in at least four suits and Rockefeller University, where Dr. Reginald Archibald is accused of abusing hundreds of boys, was named in two. Steve Orr, USA TODAY, "Hundreds of child sex abuse claims filed on first day of New York's Child Victims Act," 14 Aug. 2019 Some of the criticism referenced a professional streamer with nearly one million followers named Natalia Mogollon, who was recently accused of abusing her pet cat in a viral video clip, but didn’t receive punishment from Twitch. Louise Matsakis, WIRED, "This Is How Porn Ended Up on Ninja’s Zombie Twitch Channel," 13 Aug. 2019 An organization that couldn’t bring itself to move against child molester Larry Nassar for allegations of abusing gymnasts suddenly wants to sanction athletes for acts of conscience? Sally Jenkins, chicagotribune.com, "Commentary: When athletes kneel, the rotten U.S. Olympic regime has no moral standing to object," 13 Aug. 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

Dictionary Entries near abuse

aburst

aburton

abusage

abuse

abused

abusee

Abu Simbel

Statistics for abuse

Last Updated

17 Sep 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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