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

Ed Sibby, a spokesman for the teacher’s association, said not all districts are misusing the concept. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Poway launches pilot program aimed at mainstreaming special ed students," 12 July 2019 Some legislators fixed on the idea that people were misusing the sales-tax exemption. Kate Davidson, The Seattle Times, "Businesses, customers worry over new law making Oregonians pay Washington sales tax," 4 July 2019 Months later, a big focus of the inquiry emerged: whether Mr. Sorrell had misused company funds to pay for a rendezvous with a prostitute in London’s upscale Mayfair neighborhood. David Segal, New York Times, "Martin Sorrell Wants to Build a New Ad Empire. Please Don’t Call It Revenge.," 1 July 2019 The court ruling settled allegations that Sara Netanyahu had misused some $100,000 in state money on lavish meals. Aron Heller, BostonGlobe.com, "Israeli PM’s wife sentenced, fined for misusing state funds," 16 June 2019 But some sellers misuse these accounts to alter rivals’ product pages, such as by changing photos to unrelated items, these people said. Laura Stevens, WSJ, "Amazon, Amid Crackdown on Seller Scams, Fires Employees Over Data Leak," 10 Dec. 2018 What evidence is there that any of these ten people have misused classified information? Fox News, "Adm. Mike Mullen on ex-intel officials keeping clearances; Mulvaney on potential storm clouds ahead for Trump economy," 19 Aug. 2018 In June 2017, then French Defense Minister Sylvie Goulard resigned from government after a preliminary investigation was launched into claims her Democratic Movement party had misused EU funds. Deutsche Welle, USA TODAY, "European Union court rules Marine Le Pen must repay $350,000 in misspent funds," 19 June 2018 The Florida Commission on Ethics has found probable cause that former Apopka Mayor Joe Kilsheimer misused his position to secure city funding for an organization that had listed him as an officer — an apparent conflict of interest. Stephen Hudak, OrlandoSentinel.com, "Former Apopka Mayor Kilsheimer faces ethics charge," 15 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Journalists were once rabidly interested at even the whiff of misuse of federal power by the CIA and FBI. John Kass, Twin Cities, "John Kass: A.G. Bill Barr must find true reasons for Trump/Russia probe," 27 June 2019 On the first count of misuse of position, the commission moved to fine Day $95,795, which was the amount the city report stated that Day personally received from All Day Plumbing during that time. Dakota Smith, latimes.com, "Former L.A. building inspector fined $100,000 for double dipping on city project," 25 June 2019 Storing leftover medications at home dramatically increases the risk of misuse by the patient or by someone else in the home, and taking excessive doses puts you at risk for unexpected health complications. Helen Thorpe, Philly.com, "Q&A: What are the pros and cons of automatic prescription refilling?," 7 July 2018 Without regulation, the potential for misuse of facial-recognition technology is high, particularly for people of color. Sidney Fussell, The Atlantic, "The Strange Politics of Facial Recognition," 28 June 2019 Some jails only offer an injectable form of the drug, because that can't be diverted for misuse by inmates. Terry Demio, Cincinnati.com, "'I will die' without it: Hamilton County Jail offers addicted inmates meds behind bars," 19 June 2019 The congressman has suggested his wife was to blame for any misuse of funds. Washington Post, "Legal fight tougher for congressman as wife pleads guilty," 14 June 2019 Margaret Hunter served as campaign chair for her husband, and after the couple was indicted last year the Republican congressman from California suggested his wife was to blame for any misuse of funds. Julie Watson, BostonGlobe.com, "Indicted congressman’s wife pleads guilty to corruption," 13 June 2019 The problem, in part, is that the penalties for misuse of the whip are trifle compared to a jockey’s financial incentives to improve his place in a race. Tim Sullivan, The Courier-Journal, "Horse racing should make whip violations more painful for jockeys," 10 June 2019

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

17 Jul 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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to form ideas or theories about something

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