mal·​treat ˌmal-ˈtrēt How to pronounce maltreat (audio)
maltreated; maltreating; maltreats

transitive verb

: to treat cruelly or roughly : abuse
maltreater noun
maltreatment noun

Examples of maltreat in a Sentence

a manager fired for maltreating the staff with needless insults if you maltreat the puppy, we will take it away immediately
Recent Examples on the Web The revelations come after years of intense scrutiny of Texas’ child welfare system, which included reports by blue-ribbon panels, a state district judge in Travis County and a state comptroller citing weak protection of youngsters maltreated by birth families and then roughly handled by the state. Allie Morris, Dallas News, 30 June 2023 The family is where you are first misjudged, maltreated, belittled, lied to and beaten—or not. Matthew Gavin Frank, Harper's Magazine, 6 June 2023 Coincidentally, a landmark incident that led to the death of a Nigerian happened in 2009 in Guangzhou, where Nigerians were recently maltreated. Abdul-Gafar Tobi Oshodi, Quartz Africa, 31 May 2020 Youngsters who live in neighborhoods with more bars or liquor stores are more likely to be maltreated. Kunmi Sobowale, Scientific American, 1 July 2017

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'maltreat.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


partial translation of French maltraiter, from Middle French, from mal- + traiter to treat, from Old French traitier — more at treat entry 1

First Known Use

1708, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of maltreat was in 1708

Dictionary Entries Near maltreat

Cite this Entry

“Maltreat.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


mal·​treat (ˈ)mal-ˈtrēt How to pronounce maltreat (audio)
: to treat unkindly or roughly : abuse
maltreatment noun

More from Merriam-Webster on maltreat

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