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

During the interview, Frazee alleged that Berreth was physically abusive to their daughter, Kaylee. Elise Schmelzer, The Denver Post, "Patrick Frazee’s allegations that Kelsey Berreth abused daughter to be allowed in court," 30 Aug. 2019 Tepper agrees that many employees inadvertently encourage abusive behavior. Chris Woolston, Quartz at Work, "How to deal with an abusive boss," 29 Aug. 2019 Several Twitter users, including U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s campaign account, were temporarily locked out of their accounts for Tweeting a video that violated our abusive behavior policy. Hannah Denham, Washington Post, "The return of Mitch McConnell’s campaign Twitter account," 9 Aug. 2019 Sherra would later insist that Lorenzen had affairs with multiple women and had been abusive to her and her children. Michael Mccann, SI.com, "Revisiting Details of the Lorenzen Wright Case and Questions That Remain," 29 July 2019 An internal investigation had found that the employees, Jason Browne and Tony Miano, violated personnel rules, were abusive toward subordinates and created a hostile work environment. Paulina Pineda, azcentral, "Former Tempe Public Works Director Don Bessler sues city for age discrimination," 17 July 2019 Many had been ​convicted of killing abusive husbands or boyfriends​, and were sent to Renz after an inmate stabbed the superintendent of an overcrowded and violent women’s prison in Tipton, Missouri, in 1975. Mia Armstrong, Longreads, "In Sickness, In Health — and In Prison," 19 Aug. 2019 Alinor, a midwife with knowledge of herbal remedies, leads a hard life, with two young children and an abusive husband who’s been missing for months. Barbara Vandenburgh, USA TODAY, "5 books not to miss: Philippa Gregory’s ‘Tidelands,’ Rob Hart's 'The Warehouse'," 18 Aug. 2019 Sentence Horror Stories In the first of two new episodes of the anthology series, the ghost of an abusive husband continues to torment his family even after his death. Los Angeles Times, "What’s on TV Thursday: The series finale of ‘Elementary’ on CBS," 14 Aug. 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

5 Sep 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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