1

abuse

noun \ ə-ˈbyüs \
Updated on: 16 Nov 2017

Definition of abuse

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

Examples of abuse in a Sentence

  1. He subjected his wife to physical and emotional abuse.

  2. the buying of votes and other election abuses

  3. She was subjected to every term of abuse her boss could think of.

  4. a torrent of verbal abuse

  5. The prisoner hurled abuse at the judge.

Recent Examples of abuse from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of abuse

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 2use"

Synonym Discussion of abuse

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

2

abuse

verb \ ə-ˈbyüz \

Definition of abuse

abused; abusing
transitive verb
1 a : 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

abusable

play \-ˈbyü-zə-bəl\ adjective

abuser

noun

Examples of abuse in a Sentence

  1. He was accused of sexually abusing a child.

  2. He abused his body with years of heavy drinking.

  3. He had abused his first car by not taking care of it.

  4. She abused her friend's trust.

  5. a senator who abuses his power

  6. He abused my confidence by letting this secret be known.

Recent Examples of abuse from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of abuse

Middle English abusen, borrowed from Anglo-French abuser, verbal derivative of abuse 1abuse



ABUSE Defined for Kids

1

abuse

noun \ ə-ˈbyüs \

Definition of abuse for Students

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

2

abuse

verb \ ə-ˈbyüz \

Definition of abuse for Students

abused; abusing
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

Word Root of abuse

The Latin word ūtī, meaning “to use,” “to possess,” or “to enjoy,” and its form ūsus give us the roots ut and us. Words from the Latin ūtī have something to do with use. To use is to possess and enjoy. To abuse is to use something incorrectly or unfairly. Anything usual is commonly used by many people. A utensil is a tool that is used for a particular purpose, especially for eating or cooking.


Medical Dictionary

1

abuse

noun \ ə-ˈbyüs \

medical Definition of abuse

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

2

abuse

transitive verb \ ə-ˈbyüz \

medical Definition of abuse

abused; abusing
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
3 a : masturbate
b : to subject to abuse and especially to rape or indecent assault

abusable

play \-ˈbyü-zə-bəl\ adjective

abuser

noun

Law Dictionary

1

abuse

transitive verb \ ə-ˈbyüz \

legal Definition of abuse

abused; abusing
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
2 a : 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

abuser

noun

2

abuse

noun \ ə-ˈbyüs \

legal Definition of abuse

1 : improper, unfair, or excessive use
  • abuse of authority
  • drug abuse
2 a : 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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