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mis·​use ˌmis-ˈyüz How to pronounce misuse (audio)
misused; misusing; misuses

transitive verb

: to use incorrectly : misapply
misused his talents
a word that is frequently misused
: abuse, mistreat
… their prisoner had the heavy task of receiving their insolence as wit, answering their insults with good-humour, and withholding from them the opportunity which they sought of engaging him in a quarrel, that they might have a pretence for misusing him.Sir Walter Scott
misuser noun
plural misusers


2 of 2


mis·​use ˌmis-ˈyüs How to pronounce misuse (audio)
: incorrect or improper use : misapplication

Example Sentences

Verb She's charged with misusing company funds. a word that is frequently misused Noun 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
Recent Examples on the Web
Authorities say Teixeira, who worked as an IT professional at a military base in Massachusetts’s Cape Cod, misused his top secret clearance to share U.S. intelligence assessments and other sensitive information with others on Discord, a social media platform popular with video game players. Devlin Barrett, Washington Post, 18 May 2023 The search giant is now expanding the potential deletion from content to the full account in an effort to crack down on hackers misusing Google services for phishing schemes. Michael Kan, PCMAG, 16 May 2023 He was accused of misusing information about which NFT collections were going to be listed on OpenSea’s homepage—which usually caused price spikes—in order to personally pocket thousands of dollars. Marco Quiroz-gutierrez, Fortune Crypto, 4 May 2023 But the Food and Drug Administration has not approved it for use in treating COVID-19 and warns that misusing ivermectin can be harmful, even fatal. CBS News, 2 May 2023 In Anchorage, Alaska just this week, local leaders passed a measure restricting the use of facial recognition in the city, citing privacy must be protected and to prevent the technology from being misused. Emma Colton, Fox News, 21 Apr. 2023 The more hands that can access your data, the higher the risk of that information being misused or stolen. Shira Ovide, Anchorage Daily News, 16 Apr. 2023 ByteDance said the relevant staff were investigating potential information leaks, and they were fired for misusing their authority to access TikTok user data. Hilary Whiteman, CNN, 10 Apr. 2023 Wakhlu said that when test results show a patient might be misusing stimulants, doctors should initiate a non-accusatory conversation to discuss the results and, if needed, offer help. Arielle Zionts, NBC News, 25 Mar. 2023
The most recent intrusion investigation and subsequent report stems from a routine cybersecurity audit that began in January last year by the OIG, an independent agency that works to ferret out waste, theft, crimes or the misuse of agency property or power. Ian Duncan, Washington Post, 17 May 2023 Charges against Gillum, the 2018 Democratic nominee for governor and former Tallahassee, Florida mayor, and his longtime advisor, Lettman-Hicks, involved the misuse of campaign funds. Jeff Burlew, USA TODAY, 16 May 2023 Schools with high or moderate rates of binge drinking also had higher rates of misuse. Berkeley Lovelace Jr., NBC News, 18 Apr. 2023 At Monday’s legislative session, council member Liz Walsh said the Central Branch’s early closure, along with an October tweet by the sorority chapter describing the event as private, raised concerns of a misuse of facilities by the library. Ethan Ehrenhaft, Baltimore Sun, 4 Apr. 2023 Practical measures against information misuse and data breaches must be in place for the laws to be effective. Dmitrii Barbasura, Forbes, 23 Mar. 2023 Future work could evaluate whether funds are effectively distributed to address the effects of social isolation and the social inequities surrounding opioid misuse. Andrea Rishworth, The Conversation, 21 Mar. 2023 But now, with Gov. Ron DeSantis’ Stop W.O.K.E Act in Florida and relentless misuse by the right across the U.S., CRT seems to have become a stand-in for discussing race at all or teaching Black history at any level. Kathleen Newman-bremang, refinery29.com, 1 Feb. 2023 Tobacco use fell by over 10 points and misuse of drugs sank by nearly 3 percentage points. Sandee Lamotte, CNN, 31 Jan. 2023 See More

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

Word History


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

First Known Use


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


14th century, in the meaning defined above

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

Dictionary Entries Near misuse

Cite this Entry

“Misuse.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/misuse. Accessed 1 Jun. 2023.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 verb
mis·​use mish-ˈüz How to pronounce misuse (audio)
: to use incorrectly : misapply


2 of 2 noun
mis·​use mish-ˈüs How to pronounce misuse (audio)
: incorrect or improper use

More from Merriam-Webster on misuse

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