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

Keep scrolling for more

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.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Officials said there was no known history of domestic abuse. Fox News, "New York City grisly double murder-suicide claims lives of young girl and divorcing parents, officials say," 7 Nov. 2019 Even the conversation on domestic abuse is relatively recent. David Canfield, EW.com, "How Carmen Maria Machado wrote the best memoir of the year," 5 Nov. 2019 Moreno also has been convicted in Minnesota of domestic abuse and of violating a restraining or no-contact order on at least six occasions since 2014, according to a search of court records. Tom Olsen, Twin Cities, "‘Very impaired’ Marine on St. Croix man charged in deadly I-35 crash," 4 Nov. 2019 Federal law already bans those found guilty of misdemeanor domestic violence or who are the subject of a domestic abuse restraining order from owning firearms or ammunition. Dan Sweeney, sun-sentinel.com, "What do you think: Should people accused of domestic violence have their guns taken away?," 1 Nov. 2019 This highly inventive memoir by 2017 National Book Award finalist Carmen Maria Machado explores the trauma and horror of domestic abuse. Annabel Gutterman, Time, "Here Are the 11 New Books You Should Read in November," 1 Nov. 2019 Illinois released a statement Thursday about suspended defensive lineman Lere Oladipo in response to accusations on social media of domestic abuse. Shannon Ryan, chicagotribune.com, "Illinois releases a statement on accusations against Lere Oladipo, a suspended defensive lineman," 31 Oct. 2019 The Times reported this year that Villanueva rehired a former deputy, Caren Carl Mandoyan, who had been fired in connection with domestic abuse and stalking allegations. Alene Tchekmedyianstaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, "Sheriff rehires corruption investigator accused of posing as deputy in bizarre jail incident," 23 Oct. 2019 As a survivor of domestic abuse and a former-homeless, single mother myself, this was an issue that was especially close to my heart. Monica Duran, The Denver Post, "Guest Commentary: Colorado domestic abuse survivors, like me, needed the support of paid family leave," 21 Oct. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb According to labor advocates, during the past three years at least 50 women have directly sued the company or filed complaints with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, saying they were abused by store managers or employees. Stephen Gandel, CBS News, "Fired McDonald's CEO could see $70 million payout after co-worker affair," 5 Nov. 2019 This put limits on the extent to which power could be abused. Jonathan Fisher, Quartz Africa, "How colonial rule committed Africa to fragile authoritarianism," 2 Nov. 2019 For years, the BSA has been entangled in costly litigation with plaintiffs who said they were abused by scout leaders in their youth. David Crary, The Denver Post, "Boy Scouts to boost annual youth fees by more than 80%," 31 Oct. 2019 In April 2015, the diocese settled with 14 men who said they were abused as children by priests assigned to their suburban parishes. Madeline Buckley, chicagotribune.com, "Joliet Diocese is sued over Catholic priest accused of sexually assaulting disabled man at residential center in Kankakee," 31 Oct. 2019 Each year, the Humane Society of Hamilton County takes in approximately 3,000 homeless animals, many of which have been injured, abused or neglected. Kellie Hwang, Indianapolis Star, "Humane Society of Hamilton County plans to build a new shelter in Fishers next year," 26 Oct. 2019 Chief Development Officer Ryan Friedrichs and his deputy, Sirene Abou-Chakra – also abused their authority and should be disciplined, the inspector general wrote. Freep.com, "Duggan administration admonished for preferential treatment of Make Your Date program," 21 Oct. 2019 Seventy-eight people who said they were abused by former Ohio State University team doctor Richard Strauss called on the Ohio General Assembly to change the state’s statute of limitations law. Laura Hancock, cleveland, "78 victims of Dr. Richard Strauss, former OSU team doctor, call for law changes, OSU accountability in op-ed," 18 Oct. 2019 It was abused by baseball's best bullpen, held to six hits by six Rays relievers in a 4-1 loss. Chandler Rome, Houston Chronicle, "Justin Verlander, Astros fall to Rays in Game 4," 8 Oct. 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about abuse

Statistics for abuse

Last Updated

11 Nov 2019

Time Traveler for abuse

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

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

Comments on abuse

What made you want to look up abuse? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

a calculated move

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Confusing Words—A Quiz

  • alice with tweedle dee and tweedle dum
  • I invented a brand new toaster robot and ______ it "Sir Toasts-a-Lot."
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Dictionary Devil

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!