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 These at best interfere with intimacy, and at worst are precursors to controlling or abusive behavior. The Washington Post, "Carolyn Hax Live: Gusbombing," 17 Apr. 2020 Women who find the strength to tell somebody about their abuse are often shocked by the many people who choose not to believe them, make excuses for abusive behavior, or blame them. Angelina Jolie, Time, "Children Seem to Be Less Vulnerable to the Coronavirus. Here's How the Pandemic May Still Put Them at Risk," 9 Apr. 2020 The two measures come as tech companies continue to detect an explosion of abusive content on their platforms, and amid complaints that neither Congress nor the companies have been aggressive enough in stopping its spread. Michael H. Keller, New York Times, "Bill Would Make Tech Firms Accountable for Child Sex Abuse Imagery," 5 Mar. 2020 Denying abusive behavior creates a toxic stew of collusion and shame, all while normalizing the abuse and enabling it to continue. Lori Gottlieb, The Atlantic, "Dear Therapist: My Wife’s Sister Touched Me Inappropriately," 2 Mar. 2020 Among those giving their support is ex-Nike Oregon Project runner Mary Cain, who last year called out Alberto Salazar, her former coach, for abusive behavior. Martin Fritz Huber, Outside Online, "Internal Investigations Won’t Stop Abusive Coaches," 26 Feb. 2020 All described a pattern of abusive behavior, including steady reminders of Scharlat's powers as a federal agent, One woman told police she was assaulted by him twice in 2017, resulting in injuries that required multiple surgeries. Bruce Vielmetti, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Trial begins for former federal agent charged with sexually assaulting 3 women," 3 Feb. 2020 The Academy countered her allegations with statements denying Dugan's claims and blaming her suspension on other factors, including an internal probe into allegations of abusive behavior from Dugan made by her former assistant. Elizabeth Elkind, CBS News, "Veteran music reporter calls Academy fallout with CEO "a nuclear device" in the middle of Grammys week," 24 Jan. 2020 In an exposé in The Verge in early December, former Away employees accused Korey of verbally and emotionally abusive behavior. Sarah Todd, Quartz at Work, "Does Away co-founder Steph Korey really deserve to be CEO again?," 14 Jan. 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

29 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Abusive.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/abusive. Accessed 4 Jun. 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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