mis·​use | \ -ˈyüz \
misused; misusing; misuses

Definition of misuse 

(Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to use incorrectly : misapply misused his talents a word that is frequently misused
2 : abuse, mistreat misused his servants


mis·​use | \ -ˈyüs \

Definition of misuse (Entry 2 of 2)

: incorrect or improper use : misapplication

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Other Words from misuse


misuser noun

Examples of misuse in a Sentence


She's charged with misusing company funds. a word that is frequently misused


No refunds will be offered on products damaged by misuse. the warranty for this dryer is null and void if you subject the product to deliberate misuse
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

While Google found no evidence that developers misused this unintentional access and patched the bug in March, opting to keep this data secret isn’t cool, no matter how unpopular Google+ is. Michael Simon, PCWorld, "Google is shutting down Google+ after it exposed user data and neglected to tell anyone," 8 Oct. 2018 In 2014, reports of his identity being misused started to surface on tip reports of anti-scam websites like Scamlot.com. Joe Pappalardo, Popular Mechanics, "Online Scammers Won't Stop Impersonating This Four-Star Army General," 14 Aug. 2018 And while exposures to the treatments, which can be deadly if misused or abused, dropped slightly between 2011 and 2014, the rate of incidents ballooned nearly 72% from 2000 to 2011. Sy Mukherjee, Fortune, "Why ADHD Drug Overdoses Are Rising Among U.S. Children," 22 May 2018 The revelation that self-care isn’t a luxury, but a necessity (for everybody, not only those who misuse alcohol and other drugs) was life-changing. Claire Gillespie, Glamour, "Self-Care Only Worked for Me When I Got Sober," 22 Dec. 2018 Some FinCEN officials felt the intelligence office was misusing sensitive financial data and undercutting FinCEN’s efforts to build up its own analysis capabilities, among other concerns, the people familiar with the matter said. Rebecca Davis O’brien, WSJ, "Treasury Official Accused of Leaks Is a Trump Supporter Who Feuded With Another Unit," 25 Oct. 2018 There is no evidence that these companies misused Facebook data. Fortune, "Mark Zuckerberg Picks a Fight With England's Elite Cambridge University," 13 Apr. 2018 Concern about how user data can be misused has also been tapped into by one of Facebook’s Silicon Valley rivals. Sam Schechner, WSJ, "Facebook Fined Over Cambridge Analytica Case, but U.K. Wishes for Bigger Penalty," 25 Oct. 2018 That would have come out that that data was being misused or transferred ... Eric Johnson, Recode, "Silicon Valley congressman Ro Khanna explains his ‘internet bill of rights’," 6 Oct. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Of course, there are also some potential opportunities for misuse, as a tiny, foldable drone could also just as likely be sent to spy in small crevices. Shannon Liao, The Verge, "A shape-shifting drone suggests the future of rescue missions," 20 Dec. 2018 Facebook slapped with a maximum fine for data misuse. Danica Kirka, The Seattle Times, "UK regulator calls for tougher rules on personal data use," 7 Nov. 2018 Sara Netanyahu, the wife of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, has been charged with fraud over misuse of public funds on Thursday. Fox News, "Wife of Israel prime minister charged with fraud over misuse of public funds," 21 June 2018 The New York AG is suing Trump over misuse of funds at the Trump Foundation. NBC News, "First Read's Morning Clips: Dems feel good about shrinking Senate map," 15 June 2018 The rules thrust Apple into the role of regulator and enforcer in the wake of controversy over the misuse of personal data from Facebook Inc. —a scandal that has triggered calls for new federal regulations of digital information. Tripp Mickle, WSJ, "Apple’s New App-Privacy Rules Expose Past Loopholes," 13 June 2018 Popularized by companies such as 23andMe and Ancestry.com, the testing and analysis of ancestry data has also raised questions in recent weeks over the potential misuse of such sensitive information. Hamza Shaban, chicagotribune.com, "Ancestry service MyHeritage says 92 million customer email addresses were exposed," 5 June 2018 In the last eighteen months Facebook, with the full support of this board, has invested heavily in more people and better technology to prevent misuse of its services, including during elections. Kurt Wagner, Recode, "Facebook’s board is throwing public support behind Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg — who are on Facebook’s board," 15 Nov. 2018 For one, McCaskill said, Teva has stonewalled her efforts and refused requests to turn over documents detailing its efforts to prevent drug misuse and audits of suspicious orders for opioids. Lev Facher, STAT, "Senator, blocking subpoena of Teva in opioids probe, says matter should be left to courts," 29 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'misuse.' 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 misuse


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


14th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for misuse

Verb and Noun

Middle English, partly from mis- + usen to use; partly from Middle French mesuser to abuse, from Old French, from mes- + user to use

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Statistics for misuse

Last Updated

16 Jan 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for misuse

The first known use of misuse was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for misuse



English Language Learners Definition of misuse

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to use (something) incorrectly

: to treat (someone) unfairly



English Language Learners Definition of misuse (Entry 2 of 2)

: the act of using something in an illegal, improper, or unfair way : incorrect use


mis·​use | \ mis-ˈyüz \
misused; misusing

Kids Definition of misuse

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to put into action or service in a wrong way


mis·​use | \ mis-ˈyüs \

Kids Definition of misuse (Entry 2 of 2)

: incorrect or improper handling He was criticized for misuse of public funds.

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More from Merriam-Webster on misuse

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with misuse

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for misuse

Spanish Central: Translation of misuse

Nglish: Translation of misuse for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of misuse for Arabic Speakers

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