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

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
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Unused pills are accessible to those seeking to misuse them and unused medications can also become dangerous when consumed accidentally Contact Drake Bentley at (414) 391-5647 or DBentley1@gannett.com. Drake Bentley, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Clean out your medicine cabinet of unwanted medications and discard at Johnson Park on Saturday," 24 Apr. 2021 Parents of teens should be aware of the potential to abuse and misuse this medication due to its pyschostimulant effects. Robert Glatter, Forbes, "Abuse And Misuse Of This Nasal Decongestant Could Be Fatal, FDA Warns," 6 Apr. 2021 Millions of people misuse prescription pain relievers, stimulants and sedatives every year, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Rebekah Wahlberg, The Salt Lake Tribune, "Here’s how you can safely dispose of prescription drugs you don’t need," 19 Apr. 2021 Scammers in the United Kingdom have found other ways to misuse the vaccination cards. Stephanie Toone, ajc, "Why you should not post your COVID-19 vaccination card online," 31 Mar. 2021 Fifty years after he was put on trial, Ellsberg said that the government continues to misuse the Espionage Act to criminalize whistle-blowing and deter would-be leakers. Ben Bradlee, The New Yorker, "The Deceit and Conflict Behind the Leak of the Pentagon Papers," 8 Apr. 2021 Republican opponents said that the gun bills would impose bureaucratic burdens on law-abiding gun owners without addressing the avenues through which guns fall into the hands of people who misuse weapons. Siobhan Hughes, WSJ, "Democrats Push Gun-Control Measures Opposed by Republicans," 11 Mar. 2021 While making de-escalation training mandatory may partly reduce the cases of police brutality, adjusting the procedure of police arbitration should help reinforce accountability and ensure that the cops who misuse their power are fired. Star Tribune, "Criminal justice reform student contest: First place, high school," 27 Feb. 2021 Pervasive, inaccurate stereotypes have allowed some to misuse the term to refer to someone who simply prefers organization over disorder. Krista Stevens, Longreads, "Pop Culture Portrays OCD as a Blessing. It’s Not.," 10 Mar. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Letters and emails arrived from all over with examples of misuse of the apostrophe. James R. Hagerty, WSJ, "English Journalist Couldnt Bear Abuse’s of the Apostrophe," 5 May 2021 If convicted of misuse of public information, Segovia faces two to 10 years in prison and a possible fine of up to $10,000. Elizabeth Zavala, San Antonio Express-News, "Former SAPD officer indicted on allegations he leaked information, deceived a detective," 5 May 2021 In early June, the Guard deployed helicopters that hovered extremely low over clusters of protesters — a misuse of military medical aircraft that was roundly criticized by former pilots, human rights groups and military law experts. Washington Post, "D.C. bolsters police presence, requests National Guard troops ahead of Derek Chauvin verdict," 3 Mar. 2021 The extensive media campaign comes as the NRA faces a legal effort to combat allegations of misuse of company funds. Lawrence Richard, Washington Examiner, "NRA announces $2 million lobbying campaign in response to Biden's gun control push," 24 Apr. 2021 The Ohio Elections Commission continues to weigh whether to ask for a criminal prosecution of Newburgh Heights Mayor Trevor Elkins over his admitted misuse of his campaign account. Cliff Pinckard, cleveland, "Ohio plans to move vaccine supplies based on demand: The Wake Up for Friday, March 26, 2021," 26 Mar. 2021 He and his campaign were also investigated by the Missouri Ethics Commission for allegedly misreporting campaign funds and misuse of donor lists, although he personally was ultimately cleared of wrongdoing in that case. Meg Cunningham, ABC News, "Scandal-plagued former Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens announces Senate bid," 23 Mar. 2021 Paxton’s tenure has been mired by state and federal investigations into corruption and misuse of public office. Dallas News, "Civil rights lawyer Lee Merritt says he’s running for Texas attorney general," 21 Mar. 2021 Fortunately, revenues from the 2020 alcohol tax are dedicated directly to substance misuse treatment, prevention programs and transitional housing. Anchorage Daily News, "Anchorage mayor candidate Q&As: Homelessness remains a persistent, significant problem in Anchorage. What specifically would you do differently from previous administrations?," 14 Mar. 2021

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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Time Traveler for misuse

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for misuse

Last Updated

8 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Misuse.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/misuse. Accessed 17 May. 2021.

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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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