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 Current and former employees described an abusive work environment in which Harnden regularly unloaded on employees. Oliver Darcy, CNN, "Inside the climate of 'workplace terror and bullying' at the Washington Examiner, a conservative media outlet on the rise," 14 Feb. 2020 In case you were found to be in a relationship before wedlock, gently oppressive parents would threaten you with several days of curfew, and abusive oppressors like right-wing groups would threaten violence. Manavi Kapur, Quartz India, "On Valentine’s Day, the feminist, the lover, and the liberal in me go to war," 13 Feb. 2020 With her focus primarily on changing the behavior of the reader, Thomas lets some of the more flagrantly abusive garment industrialists off too easily. Cintra Wilson, The New York Review of Books, "Waste Not, Shop Not," 11 Feb. 2020 Among other things, the 15-minute sessions teach young men how to intervene when witnessing abusive or disrespectful behaviors among their peers. Andrew Beaton, WSJ, "The Cloud Hanging Over the Super Bowl," 30 Jan. 2020 What an off-the-record agreement with a reporter is not, is a shield against rude, abusive, or even criminal behavior. Jamie Mcintyre, Washington Examiner, "Memo to Mike Pompeo: Nothing is ever totally off the record," 30 Jan. 2020 Mozilla and Google are cracking down on malicious and abusive extensions available for the Firefox and Chrome browsers, respectively. Dan Goodin, Ars Technica, "More than 200 browser extensions ejected from Firefox and Chrome stores," 30 Jan. 2020 The inquiry revealed that Natalie had secretly sent the abusive messages to herself. The Economist, "The bully in the black mirror Why more young Americans are cyber-bullying themselves," 11 Jan. 2020 By the time Gervais abandoned even the pretense of bonhomie to lay into tech corporations for abusive labor practices, the only thing left to do was drink. Sophie Gilbert, The Atlantic, "A Chaotic Golden Globes for a Chaotic Moment," 6 Jan. 2020

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

21 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Abusive.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/abusive. Accessed 28 Feb. 2020.

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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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More from Merriam-Webster on abusive

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for abusive

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with abusive

Spanish Central: Translation of abusive

Nglish: Translation of abusive for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of abusive for Arabic Speakers

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