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

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 In criminal cases, DNA evidence is sometimes misused or misinterpreted. Fortune, "DNA Detectives Are Searching for Killers in Your Family Tree," 14 June 2018 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

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

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 Whether this latest scandal was a breach or a misuse of information is irrelevant. Helaine Olen, Anchorage Daily News, "Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg need to come clean about 2016. Now.," 20 Mar. 2018 Sophia Zahra, 21, from Wales was helped by the YMCA as a 17-year-old carer [someone under 18 who helps look after someone in their family who is ill, disabled or misuses drugs or alcohol] and now works for YMCA Swansea’s Young Carer project. Omid Scobie, Harper's BAZAAR, "Prince Harry Talks Babies, Fortnite, and the Dark Side of Social Media," 3 Apr. 2019 The agency has been investigating the potential misuse of personal data by political campaigns since May 2017. Adam Satariano And Sheera Frenkel, BostonGlobe.com, "Facebook is fined by British agency over Cambridge Analytica data leak," 11 July 2018 The agency has been investigating the potential misuse of personal data by political campaigns since May 2017. Adam Satariano, New York Times, "Facebook Is Fined in Britain Over Cambridge Analytica Data Leak," 10 July 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

22 May 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).


a strong desire or propensity

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