ne·​glect | \ ni-ˈglekt How to pronounce neglect (audio) \
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

For years, nondrinkers were the vegetarians of the bar world: neglected by menus, eye-rolled by servers, forced to settle for soda. M. Carrie Allan, The Denver Post, "No alcohol, no problem: How to make complex, balanced zero-proof cocktails," 23 Aug. 2019 For years, nondrinkers were the vegetarians of the bar world: neglected by menus, eye-rolled by servers, forced to settle for soda. M. Carrie Allan, Twin Cities, "No alcohol, no problem: How to make complex, balanced zero-proof cocktails," 19 Aug. 2019 Changes early last year to yet another program, called special immigrant juvenile status, affected young immigrants who were abused, abandoned or neglected by a parent. Andrea Castillo, Los Angeles Times, "Trump is stripping immigrant children of protections, critics say. Supporters say he’s closing loopholes," 17 Aug. 2019 Iran While not an issue of civil rights, the issue of Iranian diplomacy was also neglected by Tuesday night's candidates. Renae Reints, Fortune, "In a Debate Over Differences, Here’s What Was Left Off the Table," 31 July 2019 Everyone is constantly upset by the small things that go wrong: one is insulted by a friend; another is neglected by her family; yet another has a bad argument with his spouse or his teen-age child. Lydia Davis, The New Yorker, "Everyone Cried," 4 July 2019 Last week, a group of lawyers who toured the site said the 250 migrants in the facility were being neglected by U.S. authorities and had inadequate food, water and sanitation. James Barragán, Dallas News, "Migrant children at Texas border facility haven't been allowed to contact families, Guatemalan diplomat says," 26 June 2019 In his experience, much of the foundational work in African-American scholarship is indebted to people like Moore, calling attention to histories neglected by the academy. Siddhartha Mahanta, The New York Review of Books, "One Man’s Quest for a Memorial to Sugar Land’s Bitter History," 4 June 2019 There's open sewers, and the government neglects it. Kat Bein, Billboard, "Memba Explores the Emotional World of 'Saga-II' In Track-By-Track Breakdown," 16 Aug. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Beyoncé addressed police brutality with imagery of scenes from Ferguson, Missouri, where black teenager Michael Brown was killed, and the government’s neglect toward black Americans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Anjana Pawa, Teen Vogue, "If You Think Taylor Swift Is the Only Artist Making Protest Songs, You’re Just Not Listening," 10 Sep. 2019 Carmack was charged with murder, neglect of a dependent resulting in death, domestic battery resulting in death, and strangulation, authorities said. Fox News, "Missing Indiana girl, 10, found dead in trash bag; stepmother charged in murder," 6 Sep. 2019 The blame for defeat, and for the subsequent distortion and neglect of Poland’s story, lies elsewhere. The Economist, "Poland’s forgotten heroism and suffering," 5 Sep. 2019 One major factor is a dramatic drop in tickets issued to drivers by San Francisco police — a neglect that could be explained by too many unfilled vacancies in the department’s traffic division and ever-changing leadership of the crucial unit. Heather Knight,, "Deaths on SF’s streets are up. Traffic enforcement is down. ‘It’s hard to believe these aren’t related’," 30 Aug. 2019 What will hurt them badly: Physical neglect will truly hurt a physical touch person, while physical abuse can be absolutely destructive. Carolyn Twersky, Seventeen, "Here’s How To Figure Out Your Love Language," 29 Aug. 2019 The agency also cited criminal statutes, including aggravated manslaughter of an elderly person or disabled adult and neglect of an elderly person or disabled adult. Jeff Weiner,, "Ex-guardian Rebecca Fierle violated laws in handling of ward who died, state agency concludes," 29 Aug. 2019 Jason Gahan, director of secondary special education for the Waukesha School District, was charged in July 2018 with one count of failing to report suspected child abuse or neglect and another count of obstructing an officer, both misdemeanors. Bob Dohr, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Charges dismissed against Waukesha school administrator accused of failing to report suspected child abuse," 27 Aug. 2019 Brannon was arrested on charges of operating under the influence, reckless endangerment and child neglect. Matt Tunseth, Anchorage Daily News, "APD: Man speeding on Glenn Highway with child in his vehicle was driving while impaired," 27 Aug. 2019

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

12 Sep 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 How to pronounce neglect (audio) \
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

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authorized for issue (as a bond)

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