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

Google’s investigators didn’t find any evidence developers misused data, the company said in a blog post. John D. Mckinnon, WSJ, "Google to Accelerate Closure of Google+ Social Network After Finding New Software Bug," 10 Dec. 2018 Americans misuse prescription painkillers, compared to 475,000 heroin users — meaning the pool potentially exposed is 10 times bigger. Claire Galofaro And Lindsay Whitehurst, chicagotribune.com, "The rise and fall of an Eagle Scout’s deadly multimillion-dollar fentanyl trafficking empire," 14 Sep. 2019 These surveys are misused by marketing people and museum staff who teach children. Brian T. Allen, National Review, "Art Bridges’ Art Populism," 14 Sep. 2019 Kovalchuk, who signed a three-year, $18.75-million contract in 2018, was misused last season and scored 16 goals in 64 games. Los Angeles Times, "Column: Todd McLellan tasked with rescuing the Kings from the dark ages," 13 Sep. 2019 But they could also be misused by corporations and governments, with neural data being accessed and shared. Dominic Rech, CNN, "Brain implants could give governments and companies power to read your mind, scientists warn," 10 Sep. 2019 Facebook has repeatedly misused our personal data, and violated government agreements after being caught. Larry Edelman, BostonGlobe.com, "MIT Media Lab offers painful lesson on donations," 8 Sep. 2019 User-behavior analysis is dependent on access to personal data, which in turn is susceptible to breaches or being misused, as Cambridge Analytica did. Annalisa Merelli, Quartz, "MIT has a plan to measure the impact of 2016 election interference," 7 Sep. 2019 In recent days, several NRA board members have resigned amid turmoil over leaked documents showing the group's longtime leader Wayne LaPierre may have misused member dues. Emily Tillett, CBS News, "Parkland school shooting survivors propose comprehensive plan for gun control," 21 Aug. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

However, the study said, misuse and emergency room visits related to the drug rose dramatically among young adults. Lilly Nguyen, Daily Pilot, "Non-prescribed stimulants may improve short-term focus but fail users in the long run, UCI researchers say," 10 Sep. 2019 As a result, legislators around the country are sounding alarms about the potential for misuse and misinformation. David Singer, The Hollywood Reporter, "How Hollywood Can (and Can’t) Fight Back Against Deepfake Videos (Guest Column)," 7 Sep. 2019 An ongoing IndyStar investigation has shown misuse of state and federal funds and led to the resignation of the department's director. Tony Cook, Indianapolis Star, "Former lawmaker catches heat for secretive deal with Indiana veterans agency," 7 Aug. 2019 Antibiotic-resistant bacteria — superbugs — are medical monsters of our own design. Honed by years of antibiotic misuse and overuse, superbugs demand new weapons to treat them. B David Zarley, The Verge, "These superbug-fighting viruses are making a comeback," 5 July 2019 Microsoft reiterated statements from Smith in support of facial recognition regulation, including implementing safeguards against reported misuse and securing consent from anyone who is the target of the technology. Sidney Fussell, The Atlantic, "The Strange Politics of Facial Recognition," 28 June 2019 If companies must compensate individuals for users’ misuse and injury to themselves or others, there will be no end to the lawsuits. Krista Kafer, The Denver Post, "Kafer: Rep. Crow’s gun liability law makes a mockery of personal responsibility," 17 June 2019 The effort to better understand the epidemic’s local impact comes at a time of increased national attention on the misuse of and addiction to opioids, a class of drugs that includes fentanyl, heroin and prescription painkillers. Sarah Wu, The Seattle Times, "8 people a day overdose on opioids in Snohomish County after tightening of prescription rules: survey," 28 July 2018 For one thing, making a diagnosis of opioid misuse and abuse in the pain population is very tricky. Sandy Bauers, Philly.com, "Can we relieve suffering, avoid drug misuse - and not become 'opioid phobic'?," 15 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

9 Oct 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

What made you want to look up misuse? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to fake an opponent out of position

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