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 Marianne’s father is dead, her mother is wealthy but pathologically cold, and her older brother is abusive. Sophie Gilbert, The Atlantic, "How TV Romance Got Radical," 30 Apr. 2020 For years, animal rights activists have called the carriage-horse industry abusive and cruel but supporters have argued that the horses are treated humanely and the carriages are a romantic link to history, provide jobs and appeal to tourists. Mariel Padilla, New York Times, "Chicago Bans Horse-Drawn Carriages Starting in 2021," 25 Apr. 2020 On Monday, the defense called as a witness a former friend of Mann’s, who characterized Mann’s relationship with Weinstein as romantic rather than abusive and degrading. Jia Tolentino, The New Yorker, "Reading J. M. Coetzee’s “Disgrace” During the Harvey Weinstein Trial," 14 Feb. 2020 The criminal complaint says La Roche’s children remembered their mother was abusive to Johnson. Amy Forliti, Twin Cities, "Complaint: ‘Jane Doe’ beaten, burned, discarded in Wisconsin," 8 Nov. 2019 Police arrested him for being verbally abusive and threatening a physical fight with members of the association. Joan Rusek, cleveland, "Video shows man stealing woman’s wallet at Heinen’s: Bainbridge Township Police Blotter," 11 Oct. 2019 After Monsalve disappeared, her friends and family accused Brown being abusive toward Monsalve, who had wanted to break off their relationship, Hawaii News Now reports. Kc Baker, PEOPLE.com, "Maui Mom Vanished in 2014 and Has Never Been Found -- Now Ex Is Charged With Murder," 25 Sep. 2019 Gina Riggi alleges that Rose was verbally abusive with her and would often make derogatory comments about her weight. Gene Maddaus, chicagotribune.com, "Charlie Rose sued for sexual harassment by longtime makeup artist," 21 Sep. 2019 But not to people who act inappropriately, who are misogynistic and who are abusive to other people. Michael Kranish, Anchorage Daily News, "Trump’s coronavirus testing czar was forced out of a job developing vaccine projects. Now he’s on the hot seat.," 20 Apr. 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

15 May 2020

Cite this Entry

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