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

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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

Hunter Schafer absolutely shines as Jules, a trans girl who moves into town and quickly finds herself at the center of drama between Maddy’s abusive love interest and his father. Alice Lesperance, Teen Vogue, "Euphoria's Kat Is Not the Fat Teenage Girl Trope You've Seen Before," 5 Aug. 2019 During the fraud trial, details of Erica’s abusive home life surfaced. Harriet Sokmensuer, PEOPLE.com, "Teen N.C. Girl Was Murdered by Mom, Who Forced Her to Eat Dog Food and Didn't Let Her Use Bathroom," 2 Aug. 2019 Yet, in 1999, a study found that one-third of adolescent cases of abusive head trauma were still being missed. Richard Klasco, Time, "Don’t Get Mad if a Doctor Says They Need to Screen Your Child for Abuse," 30 July 2019 After all, Stamos points out, much of the internet's extremist and abusive behavior lives on sites like 4chan, 8chan, Voat and Gab, not the mainstream sites that might partner with his project. Andy Greenberg, WIRED, "Facebook's Ex-Security Chief Details His 'Observatory' for Internet Abuse," 25 July 2019 Forming unions remains one of the only ways workers can stand up for their rights against abusive employers and gain more agency over the way companies are run. Kate Wagner, Curbed, "The budget furniture dilemma," 24 July 2019 She was raised by an abusive black mother, Elizabeth Howard (Crystal Fox), and a docile white father (Martin Donovan), who never stood up for her. Kathleen Newman-bremang, refinery29.com, "How Big Little Lies Did Bonnie A Major Disservice By Ignoring Her Race," 23 July 2019 But those novels are just intermediaries: Twilight contains many references to Emily Brontë’s tale of abusive love, Wuthering Heights, while Fifty Shades uses Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the D’Urbervilles as a motif. Josephine Livingstone, The New Republic, "What Women Want," 22 July 2019 In New York, a coalition of labor groups planned to deliver 250,000 petitions to Amazon founder Jeff Bezos' Manhattan home calling on the company to cut business ties with ICE and end abusive working conditions in its warehouses. Fortune, "Amazon Prime Day Generating Competition From Rivals," 16 July 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.

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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

8 Aug 2019

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 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

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

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