mis·​use | \ -ˈyüz How to pronounce misuse (audio) \
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 How to pronounce misuse (audio) \

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

The company has no evidence that any personal information has been misused. Shannon Liao, The Verge, "Major airline Cathay Pacific says up to 9.4 million passengers had their data stolen," 24 Oct. 2018 The initiative spearheaded by local real-estate developer Alastair Mactaggart would have been tougher on the tech industry, even opening the door for consumers to sue if their data had been misused. Tony Romm, chicagotribune.com, "California lawmakers just adopted tough new privacy rules targeting Facebook, Google and other tech giants," 29 June 2018 And yet, in so many ways, his spirit is being increasingly reclaimed, even as his words have been misused. Ellen Mcgirt, Fortune, "raceAhead: Remembering Martin Luther King, Jr.," 4 Apr. 2018 Arif Naqvi ceded control of the fund-management unit of his Abraaj Group in February on the heels of allegations that money in the company’s health fund had been misused. Arif Sharif, Bloomberg.com, "What Led the Middle East's Top Dealmaker to Step Down," 2 Mar. 2018 Actually, sleeping in your contacts (or misusing them in other ways, like not cleaning them properly) can lead to corneal inflammation called keratitis as a result of reduced oxygen flow, Dr. Maszczak says. Korin Miller, SELF, "5 Entirely Preventable Eye Injuries Doctors See Way Too Often," 1 Nov. 2018 The Republican governor struck a deal to resign in exchange for a St. Louis prosecutor dropping a charge of misusing a charity donor list for his political campaign. Fox News, "The Latest: Incoming Missouri governor holds prayer service," 1 June 2018 Greitens had admitted to an extramartial affair and additionally has been accused of misusing a charity donor list for political purposes. CBS News, "Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens leaves office, enacts law against his alleged actions," 1 June 2018 He was also accused by prosecutors of misusing his charity’s donor list for political purposes. New York Times, "Missouri’s Governor, a Rising G.O.P. Star, Resigns Amid Scandal," 29 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The organization provides housing for 151 young people who are dealing with a range of problems such as homelessness, mental illness, recovering from substance misuse, or are fleeing domestic violence. Omid Scobie, Harper's BAZAAR, "Prince Harry Talks Babies, Fortnite, and the Dark Side of Social Media," 3 Apr. 2019 Most of Nicholson's comments concerned the demand-side of the crisis, rather than other factors fueling misuse of the drugs. Bill Glauber, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "GOP U.S. Senate candidate Kevin Nicholson focuses on demand-side of opioid crisis," 3 July 2018 In a report released on Thursday, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Inspector General said about 460,000 patients covered by Medicare received high amounts of opioids in 2017 and 71,000 were at risk of misuse or overdose. NBC News, "U.S. charges hundreds in major health care fraud, opioid crackdown," 28 June 2018 This degree of secrecy creates significant opportunities for misuse and abuse. Cyrus Farivar, Ars Technica, "ACLU to feds: Your “hacking presents a unique threat to individual privacy”," 21 Dec. 2018 Similar to other opioids, Dsuvia will also carry a boxed warning about the serious risks of misuse and abuse. Maria Armental, WSJ, "Noting Military Potential, FDA Approves Powerful Painkiller Dsuvia," 2 Nov. 2018 Both are part of a new White House campaign aimed at educating adults ages 18 to 24 about the perils of opioid misuse and illustrating the lengths to which some go to obtain prescriptions for the highly addictive painkillers. Lev Facher, STAT, "Crashing cars into walls, breaking hands with hammers: How the White House is warning against opioids," 7 June 2018 Walmart is taking a step to try to help stop the abuse and misuse of opioids. Natalie Dreier, ajc, "Walmart changes opioid policy, limits first-time prescription fills to 7 days or fewer," 8 May 2018 Since the first Death with Dignity Act was implemented in Oregon, there has been no evidence of misuse or abuse. The Economist, "The assisted-dying movement gathers momentum in America," 26 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

10 Apr 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 How to pronounce misuse (audio) \
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 How to pronounce misuse (audio) \

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

Comments on misuse

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likely to have or produce good results

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