mis·​use | \ ˌmis-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 | \ ˌmis-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

More than 11 million Americans misuse prescription opioids every year. Bob Moos, Dallas News, "Medicare grows stricter on opioids," 7 June 2019 As Rose’s smitten, misused paramour and the girls’ agent, Reiter, as Herbie, delivers savvy song-and-dance as well as a genuine character who cares deeply for the trio. Patti Restivo, baltimoresun.com, "2nd Star Production's 'Gypsy' turns it on and takes it off," 6 June 2019 Strampel was arrested earlier this year on charges that include groping and misusing his office. Todd Spangler, Detroit Free Press, "Simon: If I had known about Nassar sooner, I would have fired him," 5 June 2018 Defense hawks could work together to pressure the president not to misuse military construction funding. Mackenzie Eaglen And Rick Berger, WSJ, "Support the Troops—Don’t Declare an Emergency," 10 Feb. 2019 The former business manager for Apollo 11 moonwalker Buzz Aldrin said Tuesday she's being unfairly defamed in a lawsuit accusing her along with two of his children of misusing his credit cards and slandering him. Mike Schneider, OrlandoSentinel.com, "Buzz Aldrin's former business manager says she's being defamed in lawsuit," 26 June 2018 Mazel’s comments highlight the potential for criminals to misuse drones, which continue to rise in popularity. Jonathan Vanian, Fortune, "Criminals Used a Fleet of Drones to Disrupt an FBI Hostage Operation," 4 May 2018 In the California case, Avenatti allegedly misused a client’s money to pay his debts and those of his coffee business and law firm. Brian Melley, The Seattle Times, "Avenatti charged with trying to extort millions from Nike," 25 Mar. 2019 Beyond treatment, prescribers could also cut back on excess opioid painkiller prescriptions — to prevent more people from misusing the drugs, while still ensuring patients who truly need them get access. German Lopez, Vox, "Drug overdose deaths were so bad in 2017, they reduced overall life expectancy," 29 Nov. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Duncan Hunter's wife is changing her plea to guilty in the criminal case over campaign money misuse. NBC News, "Trump's interference admission raises difficult questions for Democrats," 13 June 2019 Pentagon critics like Khanna tend to focus on the misuse of our military power, such as in the wars in Yemen or Afghanistan, and on the need to reallocate money away from defense to address pressing social needs. Andrew Cockburn, Harper's magazine, "The Military-Industrial Virus," 10 June 2019 In fact, opioid misuse has become so prevalent that the government has declared it a public health emergency. Bob Moos, Dallas News, "Medicare grows stricter on opioids," 7 June 2019 Jarolim reportedly claimed the statements in the video could constitute offenses or attempted offenses such as misuse of office, bribery and money laundering. Kamila Jafaru, The Seattle Times, "Austrian leader calls an early election amid video scandal," 19 May 2019 Violators could face a fine and up to five years in jail, though prosecutions for drone misuse are rare. Robert Wall, WSJ, "After Massive Disruptions, U.K. Airports Bring Out the Big Guns to Stop Drones," 4 Jan. 2019 The risk for misuse and abuse emerges when people start to use these drugs regularly for a long period of time. Carolyn L. Todd, SELF, "Lena Dunham Says She's 6 Months Sober After Years of 'Misusing' Her Anti-Anxiety Medication," 30 Oct. 2018 Nissan said its own investigation into alleged misuse of company funds by Mr. Ghosn was continuing. Sean Mclain, WSJ, "Carlos Ghosn Is Charged Again, Setting Up Bail Hearing," 11 Jan. 2019 But on Wednesday, a federal appeals court in New York sent a warning to the criminal justice system, ruling for the first time that the misuse of material witness warrants was unconstitutional. Alan Feuer, New York Times, "Court Warns City About Misuse of Material Witness Warrants," 21 June 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

19 Jun 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

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