ne·​glect | \ ni-ˈglekt \
neglected; neglecting; neglects

Definition of neglect 

(Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to give little attention or respect to : disregard The building has been neglected for years.
2 : to leave undone or unattended to especially through carelessness The prison guard neglected his duty.



Definition of neglect (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : an act or instance of neglecting something
2 : the condition of being neglected

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Other Words from neglect


neglecter noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for neglect

Synonyms: Verb

bypass, disregard, forget, ignore, overlook, overpass, pass over, slight, slur (over)

Synonyms: Noun

desolation, dilapidation, disrepair, seediness

Antonyms: Verb

attend (to), heed, mind, regard, tend (to)

Antonyms: Noun

keeping, repair

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Choose the Right Synonym for neglect


neglect, disregard, ignore, overlook, slight, forget mean to pass over without giving due attention. neglect implies giving insufficient attention to something that merits one's attention. habitually neglected his studies disregard suggests voluntary inattention. disregarded the wishes of his family ignore implies a failure to regard something obvious. ignored the snide remark overlook suggests disregarding or ignoring through haste or lack of care. in my rush I overlooked a key example slight implies contemptuous or disdainful disregarding or omitting. slighted several major authors in her survey forget may suggest either a willful ignoring or a failure to impress something on one's mind. forget what others say


neglect and disregard mean to pass over something without giving it any or enough attention. neglect is used when a person does not give, whether deliberately or not, enough attention to something that deserves or requires attention. You have been neglecting your homework. disregard is used for deliberately overlooking something usually because it is not considered worth noticing. He disregarded the “keep out” sign.

Examples of neglect in a Sentence


The building has been neglected for years. The city has neglected the teacher shortage for too long. The prison guard neglected his duty.


The park was overgrown and littered from years of neglect. The parents were charged with child neglect. The house is in a state of neglect.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The problem is when drug use turns compulsive and harmful — creating health risks, leading someone to neglect family and children, driving someone to commit crimes, and so on. German Lopez, Vox, "The simple idea that could help end America’s opioid epidemic," 26 Dec. 2018 The losses illustrate an ongoing concern from rural or suburban factions that worry measures like this will only benefit big cities and neglect the needs of smaller municipalities. Alissa Walker, Curbed, "Transit on the ballot: How cities voted to fund transportation," 7 Nov. 2018 Personal actions to consider Actions that can be taken to improve personal retirement planning are well known but often neglected. Russ Wiles, azcentral, "Reality check: Social Security will survive, but will it be enough?," 8 July 2018 The production doesn't quite make a case for Carmen Jones as a neglected classic, but the 75-year-old cross-genre mashup does emerge as a fabulous artifact that still thrums with irresistible vitality. David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Carmen Jones': Theater Review," 28 June 2018 More parents are abusing drugs and neglecting their children. The Christian Science Monitor, "Extending compassion beyond migrant kids," 26 June 2018 An animal cruelty investigation has led to the seizure of 72 malnourished and neglected animals at a Cypress home on June 13, 2018, the Houston Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals said. Jane Stueckemann, Houston Chronicle, "73 animals rescued from Cypress property remain with SPCA," 20 June 2018 No attempt to trace the rise of athleisure should neglect the role of Lululemon, which was founded in 1998 and has done more to sell Americans on stretchy pants for all occasions than any other company. Nora Caplan-bricker, Outside Online, "Ty Haney Is the Queen of Athleisure," 5 June 2018 Many are runaways, or children who feel neglected or invisible at home. Laura Wallis, Glamour, "Meet Two Women Leading the Charge Against Sexual Abuse and Sex Trafficking," 12 Nov. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Sometimes parental rights have already been terminated for the children’s siblings because of severe neglect or chronic abuse. Naomi Schaefer Riley, WSJ, "The White House Can Help Foster Kids," 9 Dec. 2018 The bill from the Texas Republican cites abuse, parental neglect or evidence that the child is the victim of human trafficking. Justin L. Mack, Indianapolis Star, "Sen. Todd Young cosponsoring Ted Cruz bill to keep immigrant families together," 20 June 2018 The teens are in care due to child abuse, neglect or abandonment. Carol Marbin Miller, miamiherald, "Hisplace," 15 May 2018 Teachers and school administrators are among those professionals who are mandated by law to report suspected child abuse and neglect or face criminal penalties. Josh Kovner,, "Montville School Officials: No Red Flags In 'Fight Club' Substitute's Hiring; His Mom A Teacher At The School," 18 Apr. 2018 Krystal Nicole Daniels, 27, was arrested Monday and charged with aggravated child neglect or endangerment as authorities investigate the disappearance of Joe Clyde Daniels, according to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. Nicole Chavez, CNN, "Tennessee mother saw husband kill her 5-year-old son who had autism, authorities say," 11 Apr. 2018 Now, his wife, Krystal Nicole Daniels, is behind bars on $1 million bond after being detained Monday for aggravated child neglect or endangerment. Chris Harris,, "Tenn. Mom Charged in Case of Missing 5-Year-Old Boy With Autism — as Dad Faces Homicide Charges," 10 Apr. 2018 Jany Leveille, 35; Hujrah Wahhaj, 38, and Subhannah Wahhaj, 35, were arrested and charged with neglect and child abuse of the children. Katherine Lam, Fox News, "Moms arrested after 11 children found in 'filthy' New Mexico compound with armed Muslim 'extremists,' cops say," 2 Oct. 2018 It was enacted by the thinnest of margins: A 12-cent gasoline tax passed by lawmakers last year to finance a multibillion-dollar campaign to repair California roads and bridges hobbled by years of neglect and disrepair. Adam Nagourney, New York Times, "How Control of Congress Could Swing on a Fight to Repeal California’s Gas Tax," 6 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'neglect.' 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 neglect


1529, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1597, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for neglect


borrowed from Latin neglēctus, past participle of neglegere, neclegere "to disregard, do nothing about, fail to care for," from nec "not" (probably from ne- "not" + -ce, deictic element, going back to Indo-European *ḱe, *ḱi) + legere "to gather, select, read" — more at no entry 1, he entry 1, legend

Note: The Latin formative nec in this word and (with invariable voicing) in negō, negāre "to deny" (see negate) and negōtium "business, difficulty" (see negotiate) is presumably identical with Old Latin nec "not" and distinct from nec as a reduced form of neque "and not."


borrowed from Latin neglēctus, from neglegere, neclegere "to disregard, do nothing about, neglect entry 1" + -tus, suffix of verbal action

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Statistics for neglect

Last Updated

3 Jan 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for neglect

The first known use of neglect was in 1529

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More Definitions for neglect



English Language Learners Definition of neglect

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to fail to take care of or to give attention to (someone or something)

: to fail to do (something)



English Language Learners Definition of neglect (Entry 2 of 2)

: lack of attention or care that someone or something needs

: the condition of not being taken care of


ne·​glect | \ ni-ˈglekt \
neglected; neglecting

Kids Definition of neglect

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to fail to give the right amount of attention to The property has been neglected.
2 : to fail to do or look after especially because of carelessness She neglected to say goodbye.



Kids Definition of neglect (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : lack of attention or care to something or someone neglect of duty
2 : the state of not being looked after or given attention The house suffers from neglect.



Legal Definition of neglect 

: a disregard of duty resulting from carelessness, indifference, or willfulness especially : a failure to provide a child under one's care with proper food, clothing, shelter, supervision, medical care, or emotional stability — compare abuse sense 2, negligence

Other Words from neglect

neglect transitive verb
neglectful adjective

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More from Merriam-Webster on neglect

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with neglect

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for neglect

Spanish Central: Translation of neglect

Nglish: Translation of neglect for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of neglect for Arabic Speakers

Comments on neglect

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


marked by shyness and lack of polish

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