abu·sive | \ ə-ˈbyü-siv 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

Advocates for the bill included two women who said they were married as teens, one at 13 and the other at 16, to abusive older men. Deborah Yetter, The Courier-Journal, "The big winners of Kentucky's 2018 legislative session: Social workers and children," 17 Apr. 2018 Research by Sanchez-Vives and others has found that abusive men typically have an inability to recognize fear in a woman’s face. Elizabeth Bernstein, WSJ, "The Future of Therapy: Becoming Someone Else in VR," 16 Apr. 2018 The shifting attitude toward the Cosby allegations is, in itself, instructive; a barometer for measuring progress in the move toward believing women and handing down consequences for abusive men. Michelle Ruiz, Vogue, "The Bill Cosby Retrial Starts Today. Will it Be Different Amid #MeToo?," 2 Apr. 2018 Van Walsum cloaked Capulet in a stiff, black tuxedo, making Calmels loom even larger and reducing the story into a tale of one abusive man. Laura Blieberg, latimes.com, "In the Joffrey Ballet's 'Romeo and Juliet,' love isn't the only thing to get lost," 11 Mar. 2018 The rap icon stands up for her fellow women and calls out abusive men whose wrongs range from street harassment to domestic abuse. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Women Write the Most Empowering Music—​and These 26 Songs Prove It," 8 Mar. 2018 Much of Brave reads like the diary of a woman driven half-mad by abusive men who assume no one will listen to her. Kristen Bellstrom, Fortune, "State of the Union, Joanne Lipman, Wynn Resorts: Broadsheet for Jan. 30," 30 Jan. 2018 What can architects do to respond to or prevent abusive behavior? Diana Budds, Curbed, "#MeToo hit architecture. Now what?," 5 July 2018 And that fine won't crumble the systemic power that turned every head, closed every mouth as the abusive behavior continued. Jourdan Rodrigue, charlotteobserver, "Policy to curb toxic silence that protected Panthers owner needs a name. Here it is.," 28 June 2018

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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Statistics for abusive

Last Updated

19 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for abusive

The first known use of abusive was in 1538

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More Definitions for abusive


abu·sive | \ ə-ˈbyü-siv , -ziv \

Kids Definition of abusive

1 : using or involving harmful treatment

2 : using harsh insulting language abusive comments


abu·sive | \ ə-ˈbyü-siv, -ziv \

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

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


to deposit or conceal in a hiding place

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