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

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

Keep scrolling for more

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

But in recent years, the permissiveness these policies has also created loopholes for those whose spread disinformation, incite hatred and violence, and post abusive and offensive content to the web. Casey Newton, The Verge, "Twitter’s fear of making hard decisions is killing it," 17 Aug. 2018 Women are fighting because the old forms of power are harmful and abusive to us, to our families, to our workplaces, to our houses of worship, to our democracy, and to our planet. Alicia Garza, Marie Claire, "Alicia Garza: Women Are the New Face of Power," 21 Mar. 2019 If Russian law enforcement agencies engage in abusive practices, then the country pays with its reputation, and this is a stark reminder of it. Angela Charlton, The Seattle Times, "Interpol’s flaws exposed in US-Russia fight over presidency," 21 Nov. 2018 But many other crypto traders say abusive trading practices are slowing cryptocurrencies’ adoption. Alexander Osipovich, WSJ, "Bots Are Manipulating Price of Bitcoin in ‘Wild West of Crypto’," 2 Oct. 2018 Still, violent crime remains high, and Baltimore only recently finished its first year under a federal consent decree process that requires sweeping police reforms to address corruption and abusive practices. Washington Post, "Baltimore’s police commissioner resigns after tax charges," 17 May 2018 The key abusive practice that the FDA’s website spotlights is the tactic of brand-name drug makers to withhold samples of their drugs from generic drug makers. Beth Mole, Ars Technica, "FDA has named names of pharma companies blocking cheaper generics [Updated]," 17 May 2018 The sinking is the latest in a string of potentially deadly mishaps in a fleet that has been plagued with concerns about exploitative, dangerous and sometimes abusive labor practices. CBS News, "Deck hand saved lives as fishing boat sank; captain's role under investigation," 6 Apr. 2018 Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, who was appointed archbishop in the French city of Lyon in 2002, faced charges of covering up for an abusive priest and endangering minors. Noemie Bisserbe And Francis X. Rocca, WSJ, "French Cardinal Convicted for Covering Up Child Sex Abuse," 7 Mar. 2019

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about abusive

Statistics for abusive

Last Updated

2 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for abusive

The first known use of abusive was in 1538

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on abusive

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with abusive

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for abusive

Spanish Central: Translation of abusive

Nglish: Translation of abusive for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of abusive for Arabic Speakers

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).


using a distributed computer network

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Time Traveler Quiz: Which Word Came First?

  • time traveler quiz which word came first
  • Which came first?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Syn City

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

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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