abject

adjective
ab·​ject | \ ˈab-ˌjekt How to pronounce abject (audio) \

Definition of abject

1 : sunk to or existing in a low state or condition : very bad or severe living in abject poverty to lowest pitch of abject fortune thou art fallen— John Milton abject failure
2a : cast down in spirit : servile, spiritless a man made abject by suffering an abject coward
b : showing hopelessness or resignation abject surrender
3 : expressing or offered in a humble and often ingratiating spirit abject flattery an abject apology

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Other Words from abject

abjectly \ ˈab-​ˌjek(t)-​lē How to pronounce abject (audio) , ab-​ˈjek(t)-​ \ adverb
abjectness \ ˈab-​ˌjek(t)-​nəs How to pronounce abject (audio) , ab-​ˈjek(t)-​ \ noun

Synonyms for abject

Synonyms

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mean, ignoble, abject, sordid mean being below the normal standards of human decency and dignity. mean suggests small-mindedness, ill temper, or cupidity. mean and petty satire ignoble suggests a loss or lack of some essential high quality of mind or spirit. an ignoble scramble after material possessions abject may imply degradation, debasement, or servility. abject poverty sordid is stronger than all of these in stressing physical or spiritual degradation and abjectness. a sordid story of murder and revenge

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Abject comes from "abjectus," the past participle of the Latin verb abicere, meaning "to cast off." Its original meaning in English was "cast off" or "rejected," but it is now used to refer more broadly to things in a low state or condition. "Abject" shares with "mean," "ignoble," and "sordid" the sense of being below the normal standards of human decency and dignity. "Abject" may imply degradation, debasement, or servility ("abject poverty"). "Mean" suggests having such repellent characteristics as small-mindedness, ill temper, or cupidity ("mean and petty satire"). "Ignoble" suggests a loss or lack of some essential high quality of mind or spirit ("an ignoble scramble after material possessions"). "Sordid" is stronger than all of these in stressing physical or spiritual degradation and lowness ("a sordid story of murder and revenge").

Examples of abject in a Sentence

… the time would come that no human being should be humiliated or be made abject. — Katherine Anne Porter, The Never-Ending Wrong, 1977 … my critical intelligence sometimes shrivels to an abject nodding of the head. — Lewis H. Lapham, Harper's, May 1971 … nothing seemed to have changed at the Beehive across the years. The same pallid employees were visible in the same abject state of peonage, cringing under the whiplash of overseers. — S. J. Perelman, Baby, It's Cold Inside, 1970 They live in abject misery. He offered an abject apology. She thought he was an abject coward.
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Recent Examples on the Web For Afghans, the war brought countless fresh graves and frequent doses of abject misery. Nabih Bulos, Los Angeles Times, 30 Aug. 2021 Bill Camp shows up, too, playing a character whose abject misery lacks, in the first three episodes, shading or dimension. Daniel D'addario, Variety, 25 Aug. 2021 Provided: 1) I am permitted to remark on the abject stupidity in every wrong answer. Kayla Keegan, Good Housekeeping, 23 Aug. 2021 Behind each of these images is a degree of human suffering that the abject posture of their subjects does nothing to explain. Cora Currier, The New Republic, 24 Sep. 2021 Second, China’s abject state of poverty was, of course, created by Mao Zedong and the Communist Party in the first place. Anne Stevenson-yang, Forbes, 8 Sep. 2021 Provided: 1) I am permitted to remark on the abject stupidity in every wrong answer. Kayla Keegan, Good Housekeeping, 23 Aug. 2021 Mother and son shuffle between abject Boston neighborhoods, sometimes living in her car. Dwight Garner, New York Times, 23 Aug. 2021 In books and essays, Mr. Roberts often explored how the single-minded nature of climbers could descend into abject selfishness. BostonGlobe.com, 22 Aug. 2021

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

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for abject

Middle English, "outcast, rejected, lowly," borrowed from Latin abjectus "downcast, humble, sordid," from past participle of abicere "to throw away, throw down, overcome, abandon," from ab- ab- + -icere, reduced form of jacere "to throw" — more at jet entry 3

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Time Traveler for abject

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The first known use of abject was in the 15th century

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Dictionary Entries Near abject

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abject

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Last Updated

10 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Abject.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/abject. Accessed 17 Oct. 2021.

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More Definitions for abject

abject

adjective
ab·​ject | \ ˈab-ˌjekt How to pronounce abject (audio) \

Kids Definition of abject

1 : very bad or severe abject poverty
2 : low in spirit, strength, or hope an abject coward

Other Words from abject

abjectly adverb He stared abjectly at his ruined home.

More from Merriam-Webster on abject

Nglish: Translation of abject for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of abject for Arabic Speakers

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