abu·​sive | \ə-ˈbyü-siv 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

Google has a tool to let site operators check if their sites are deemed abusive, and the company will give them 30 days to remedy any problematic ads. Peter Bright, Ars Technica, "Chrome 71 will block any and all ads on sites with “abusive experiences”," 5 Nov. 2018 This business has felt like a continuation of an abusive relationship—draining. Amber Rae, SELF, "Ask Amber Rae: How Do I Stop Feeling Like a Failure?," 5 Nov. 2018 There's a lot of other women out there that could be my daughter or my sister that are in an [abusive] situation. Dan Barna, Glamour, "Serena Williams Shared a Rare Photo of Her Daughter to Celebrate an Instagram Milestone," 9 Oct. 2018 Morrison played Paul Stadler, the abusive, estranged husband of Jo. Amanda Garrity, Good Housekeeping, "QUIZ: How Well Do You Remember 'Grey's Anatomy' Season 14?," 27 Sep. 2018 When to cut ties with an ex Under no circumstances should a relationship that was abusive, manipulative or toxic transition into a friendship, Sussman says. Jamie Ducharme, Time, "Should You Stay Friends With an Ex? Here's What Experts Say," 10 July 2018 Writer Carmen Maria Machado, who accused Díaz of being verbally abusive and misogynistic, also responded on Monday via Twitter. Anne Branigin, The Root, "Junot Díaz Says He Regrets Statement Apologizing for Sexual Misconduct, Denies Allegations," 3 July 2018 But Jackson's management style was abrasive at best, abusive at worst, according to Michael and other children, who complained of constant work and the loss of normal childhoods. Maria Puente, USA TODAY, "Reports: Joe Jackson, Michael's dad, in final stages of terminal cancer," 22 June 2018 At the end season two, as Clay and Justin were talking in Monet's coffee shop, the camera turned to Seth (Justin's mom's abusive and drug dealing boyfriend), who was watching them from his car. Kelsey Stiegman, Seventeen, "13 Reasons Why 2018 Guide," 6 June 2018

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

14 Nov 2018

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, -ziv\

Kids Definition of abusive

1 : using or involving harmful treatment

2 : using harsh insulting language abusive comments


abu·​sive | \ə-ˈbyü-siv, -ziv \

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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Comments on abusive

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a private place of worship

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