abu·​sive | \ ə-ˈbyü-siv How to pronounce abusive (audio) also -ziv \

Definition of abusive

1a : using harsh, insulting language an angry and abusive crowd
b : harsh and insulting abusive language
c : using or involving physical violence or emotional cruelty abusive behavior an abusive husband an abusive relationship
2 : characterized by wrong or improper use or action especially : corrupt abusive financial practices

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Other Words from abusive

abusively adverb
abusiveness noun

Examples of abusive in a Sentence

The fans yelled abusive comments to the referee. protecting wives from abusive husbands
Recent Examples on the Web The company has ousted two powerful TV station executives over allegations of racist and abusive behavior, following a Los Angeles Times investigation. Julia Wick, Los Angeles Times, "Newsletter: Essential California Week in Review: Counting down to reopening," 10 Apr. 2021 According to a criminal complaint: The man's wife called police and reported that her husband had become physically abusive during an argument. Eddie Morales, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "A Mequon man has been charged with domestic abuse after an hourslong police standoff at his home," 2 Apr. 2021 The defendants told investigators in interviews earlier this year that the 57-year-old Gary Herbst was verbally and physically abusive to both of them, in particular to Connie Herbst, the charges read. Paul Walsh, Star Tribune, "Woman, adult son charged in murder of father in the family's Twin Cities home more than 7 years ago," 19 Nov. 2020 Just as stay-at-home orders have jeopardized the safety of people trapped with physically abusive partners, this new social-distancing way of life made would-be victims of nonconsensual pornography more vulnerable to attack. Washington Post, "‘Revenge porn’ was already commonplace. The pandemic has made things even worse.," 29 Oct. 2020 Our parent has never been verbally or physically abusive. Abigail Van Buren, oregonlive, "Dear Abby: Parent who constantly ‘kicks out’ children is breaking the law," 4 Oct. 2020 The lack of screen time is glaring when combined with Fisher's allegations of abusive behavior by Whedon during reshoots. NBC News, "How an unprecedented fan campaign powered Zack Snyder's cut of 'Justice League'," 17 Mar. 2021 Dear Annie: This is a message to the sister in distress because of the abusive behavior of her sister-in-law. cleveland, "Dear Annie: How to deal with a narcissist in the family," 16 Mar. 2021 Both companies say drivers are subjected to background checks and reports of abusive behavior are extremely rare. Joe Walsh, Forbes, "Rivals Uber And Lyft Will Share Reports Of Sexual Assault By Drivers," 11 Mar. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'abusive.' 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 abusive

1538, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for abusive

borrowed from Anglo-French abusif "misplaced, wrong, in error," borrowed from Late Latin abūsīvus "misused, catachrestic," from Latin abūsus, past participle of abūtī "to abuse entry 2" + -īvus -ive

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Time Traveler for abusive

Time Traveler

The first known use of abusive was in 1538

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Statistics for abusive

Last Updated

12 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Abusive.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/abusive. Accessed 13 Apr. 2021.

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More Definitions for abusive


abu·​sive | \ ə-ˈbyü-siv How to pronounce abusive (audio) , -ziv \

Kids Definition of abusive

1 : using or involving harmful treatment
2 : using harsh insulting language abusive comments


abu·​sive | \ ə-ˈbyü-siv, -ziv How to pronounce abusive (audio) \

Legal Definition of abusive

1 : characterized by wrong or improper use or action abusive tax shelters
2 : inflicting verbal or physical abuse abusive parents

Other Words from abusive

abusively adverb

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Comments on abusive

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