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 Raúl is like the abusive husband who has nowhere else to go, nor wants to go. Jon Lee Anderson, The New Yorker, "Cuba After the Castros," 28 Apr. 2021 Serena's lawyer wants to use those details to make the judge believe Serena's crimes were conducted in fear of her abusive husband. Amanda Ostuni, EW.com, "The Handmaid's Tale season 4 premiere recap: Everyone feels like they're cleaning up June's mess," 28 Apr. 2021 Christina Ricci and Hamish Linklater lended their voices to the story of a woman drifting in and out of reality, while at the mercy of her abusive husband. Glenn Garner, PEOPLE.com, "Aubrey Plaza Made Her Directorial Debut While Isolating with Beau Jeff Baena: 'It Was Very Us'," 26 Apr. 2021 An abusive husband or boyfriend could hide one in your car. John Koetsier, Forbes, "Apple AirTags: How Apple Is Preventing Creepers From Electronically Stalking You," 20 Apr. 2021 Farzana Alizada believes that her sister, Maryam, was murdered by her abusive husband. New York Times, "Afghan Women Fear the Worst, Whether War or Peace Lies Ahead," 18 Apr. 2021 Farzana Alizada believes that her sister, Maryam, was murdered by her abusive husband. Thomas Gibbons-neff, Star Tribune, "Afghan women fear the worst, whether war or peace lies ahead," 18 Apr. 2021 Kalindra tries desperately to find an outlet for her struggling voice and escape from her abusive husband. Ed Stockly, Los Angeles Times, "Movies on TV this week ‘Pulp Fiction’ on BBC America and IFC," 9 Apr. 2021 What really did her in was when her abusive husband, Louis McKay, got involved. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "The United States vs. Billie Holiday: What Really Happened," 26 Feb. 2021

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

6 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Abusive.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/abusive. Accessed 11 May. 2021.

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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

Comments on abusive

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