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

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 Is the relationship abusive—physically or emotionally? Sharon Kwon, SELF, 6 Aug. 2022 Schmidt learned that her daughter was in an abusive relationship in 2021, after Petito and her boyfriend, Brian Laundrie spent the summer traveling across the country in a white van together, documenting their adventures on YouTube along the way. Steve Helling, Peoplemag, 5 Aug. 2022 Alex Russell, a young woman who escapes an abusive relationship, takes a job as a maid to provide for her daughter; Qualley had to take what was etched into Land’s experience and chart her own course. Hunter Ingram, Variety, 4 Aug. 2022 Still, Joker is known for his on-off abusive relationship with Harley Quinn, his psychiatrist at the Arkham Asylum mental institution who falls in love with him and becomes his sidekick and partner in crime. Etan Vlessing, The Hollywood Reporter, 3 Aug. 2022 Following his death, Armstrong opened up about the abusive relationship. Christian Holub, EW.com, 1 Aug. 2022 Kendrick, 36, stars in Alice, Darling, director Mary Nighy's psychological thriller about an abusive relationship. Anna Lazarus Caplan, PEOPLE.com, 28 July 2022 In the movies, the interior trauma so many women endure years or decades after the end of an abusive relationship is resolved with a cruelly misleading lack of fuss or psychological fallout. Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune, 28 July 2022 Alotaibi had documented the alleged abusive relationship on social media. Landon Mion, Fox News, 23 July 2022 See More

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.

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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The first known use of abusive was in 1538

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Last Updated

10 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Abusive.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/abusive. Accessed 17 Aug. 2022.

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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

More from Merriam-Webster on abusive

Nglish: Translation of abusive for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of abusive for Arabic Speakers


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