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

What can architects do to respond to or prevent abusive behavior? Diana Budds, Curbed, "#MeToo hit architecture. Now what?," 5 July 2018 And that fine won't crumble the systemic power that turned every head, closed every mouth as the abusive behavior continued. Jourdan Rodrigue, charlotteobserver, "Policy to curb toxic silence that protected Panthers owner needs a name. Here it is.," 28 June 2018 But do not use grief as a tool to absolve him of his abusive behavior. refinery29.com, "XXXtentacion & The Dangers Of Honoring Black Men Unconditionally," 27 June 2018 But what's happening now is quickly sliding down a slippery slope toward harassment, denial of service and abusive behavior. Howard Kurtz, Fox News, "Targeting Trump aides: The politics of rage is out of control," 26 June 2018 The cheerleaders say that Gary routinely engaged in physically and emotionally abusive behavior. Michael Mccann, SI.com, "NFL Teams Previously Have Settled in Cheerleader Lawsuits. Will Texans' Ex-Cheerleaders Set Different Precedent?," 25 June 2018 Not the Same As Fat Phobia Writer and fat positivity advocate Melissa A. Fabello, Ph.D., explains the difference between abusive behavior and systemic abuse. Carolyn Kylstra, SELF, "The Weight Issue: A Letter from the Editor," 25 June 2018 Grassley noted that Heidi Bond, whose case was featured in the Washington Post story on Kozinski, submitted a letter criticizing the working group's report for not exploring possible signs of abusive behavior. Joan Biskupic, CNN, "Senators unhappy with judiciary's response to harassment in courthouses," 13 June 2018 In court documents reviewed by the Free Press, prosecutors argue that Harvey's case is part of a pattern of abusive behavior Bessner inflicted on select Detroit residents. John Wisely, Detroit Free Press, "Prosecutors: Trooper charged with ATV murder used Taser to punish people," 7 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

5 Sep 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

What made you want to look up abusive? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


alleviating pain or harshness

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