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 European Union launched an antitrust investigation into whether Amazon is misusing its dual role as both a marketplace for independent sellers and a retailer of its own products. Jay Greene, Washington Post, "Microsoft’s president chides Facebook, urges new approaches to combat weaponization of tech," 8 Sep. 2019 In December, the committee dismissed allegations that Grijalva misused the committee's funds with the settlement. Ronald J. Hansen, azcentral, "'Angel Dad' Steve Ronnebeck to make congressional run in Rep. Raul Grijalva's district," 8 Aug. 2019 That can help prevent hackers from later misusing that code. Dan Goodin, Ars Technica, "Self-driving car service open sources new tool for securing firmware," 7 Aug. 2019 There is plenty of public footage of them misusing their power over the years. Byron Mccauley, Cincinnati.com, "Take a moment and thank the police who run toward danger," 5 Aug. 2019 Caring for children While much of the attention has focused on those misusing opioids, one of the populations hardest hit by opioid misuse is children. Paul L. Morgan, The Conversation, "Opioid epidemic may have cost states at least $130 billion in treatment and related expenses – and that’s just the tip of the iceberg," 30 July 2019 And too many companies misusing their most important resource, with too many developers tied up in projects designed to prop up legacy systems and bad software, at a cost of $300 billion a year — $85 billion just dealing with bad code. Recode Staff, Recode, "Recode Daily: The truth about Les Moonves; inside Elon Musk’s brain," 11 Sep. 2018 Perry has prior convictions in Hamilton County for repeatedly slamming a dog against a concrete curb in 2011 and for misusing his employer's credit card in 2017. Cameron Knight, Cincinnati.com, "Documents: Man indicted on three rapes dating back 11 years," 22 Aug. 2019 Purdue’s owners learned as early as 1999 opioids were being misused and blamed individuals for it. Christopher Magan, Twin Cities, "Minnesota lawsuit takes aim at Sackler family’s alleged role in opioid crisis," 5 Aug. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Wisniewski and her boyfriend, Daniel Scholz, are also charged with additional felony charges of misuse of credit cards in a separate case. Cory Shaffer, cleveland.com, "Strongsville woman found guilty of looting ailing Korean War vet’s bank account through phony marriage promise," 3 Sep. 2019 Only after there's an allegation of misuse can NSO demand target-data in order to investigate. Correspondent Lesley Stahl, CBS News, "CEO of Israeli spyware-maker NSO on fighting terror, Khashoggi murder, and Saudi Arabia," 18 Aug. 2019 The group met with representatives of CVS and several other drugstores to urge them not to withhold medication from people in pain but instead to stay alert to warning signs of misuse. Jonathan Saltzman, BostonGlobe.com, "One drugstore dispensed a lot of painkillers. But that’s not the whole story.," 29 July 2019 Most of the injuries were associated with misuse of the fireworks, such as holding them by hand, throwing them, or setting them off improperly. Robert Mccoppin, chicagotribune.com, "Legal fireworks in Illinois? Despite annual injury toll, lawmaker proposes that state join pyrotechnics market," 10 July 2018 The vague wording of the NSL leaves it open to misuse by police and other authorities. Binaifer Nowrojee, Time, "Don't Forget the Dark Side of Living in South Korea," 11 June 2018 Opponents say more should be done to stop misuse of EU funds by businesses close to Orbán. Alastair Macdonald, The Christian Science Monitor, "European leaders work to keep conservative East in EU," 27 Apr. 2018 Facebook is not the only company to deal with misuse of private information that has weakened public confidence. CBS News, "Can Facebook restore public trust after Cambridge Analytica scandal?," 24 Mar. 2018 Hindu organizations say this amounts to serious misuse of a sacred religious symbol. Deepa Bharath, The Mercury News, "Water sportswear with Hindu god’s image from California company sparks outrage," 10 Aug. 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

11 Sep 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).


one from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan

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