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

And everyone, including non-Natives, should demand an apology for the misuse of her name. Ruth Hopkins, Teen Vogue, "Sacagawea Changed the Course of History and Deserves Respect," 11 Jan. 2019 The transition at the Pentagon also includes the resignation this week of Dana White, the Pentagon’s chief spokeswoman, who has been under investigation by the Department of Defense Inspector General for improper conduct and misuse of employees. Gordon Lubold, WSJ, "Acting Pentagon Chief Says He’ll Carry Out Trump’s Vision for the Military," 1 Jan. 2019 Spanish officials wanted him extradited from Germany to face charges of sedition, rebellion and misuse of public funds. Siobhán O'grady, Washington Post, "A Catalan leader will avoid extradition from Germany on rebellion charges. But his troubles aren’t over.," 12 July 2018 In a separate case in November she was arrested for theft and misuse of credit cards, however, she was never convicted, and she was instead ordered to complete Warren County Veterans Intervention Program. Breanna Edwards, The Root, "#BanditBecky: Suburban Mom, Sentenced to 30 Days in Jail Following 2-Day Stealing Spree, Blames Boredom For Crimes," 4 July 2018 Puigdemont is fighting extradition from Germany to Spain where he is sought on charges of rebellion and misuse of public funds. Joseph Wilson, chicagotribune.com, "With a new Spanish leader, what's next for Catalonia?," 2 June 2018 Conyers, an 88-year-old Democrat who was serving his 27th term in the U.S. House of Representatives, resigned his seat in December amidst claims of harassment and verbal abuse of employees and misuse of taxpayer funds to cover-up those claims. Kathleen Gray, Detroit Free Press, "John Conyers' III petitions for Aug. ballot fall short, Wayne County says," 16 May 2018 His departure followed allegations of personal misconduct and misuse of company assets and comes days before the board was set to publish the findings of their investigation. Fortune, "WPP CEO Martin Sorrell Resigns From Ad Empire Amid Allegations of Misconduct," 15 Apr. 2018 Spanish authorities accuse Puigdemont of rebellion and misuse of public funds in organizing an unauthorized referendum last year on Catalonia’s independence from Spain. Geir Moulson, BostonGlobe.com, "German court orders former Catalan president freed till extradition request is decided," 6 Apr. 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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