abra·​sive | \ ə-ˈbrā-siv How to pronounce abrasive (audio) , -ziv \

Definition of abrasive

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : causing damage, wear, or removal of surface material by grinding or rubbing : tending to abrade abrasive compounds for whitening teeth an abrasive surface
2 : causing irritation abrasive manners an abrasive personality



Definition of abrasive (Entry 2 of 2)

: a substance (such as emery or pumice) used for abrading, smoothing, or polishing used an abrasive for polishing the rough stones

Other Words from abrasive


abrasively adverb
abrasiveness noun

Abrasive Has Latin Roots

Once upon a time, English had abrade and abrase. While abrade remains a familiar word, abrase is rare but survives in abrasive. Both verbs come from abrādere, meaning "to remove by rubbing" or "to scrape off."

Examples of abrasive in a Sentence

Adjective The waves had an abrasive action on the rocks. an abrasive display of rude behavior
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective The bristles are abrasive, knocking loose any physical buildup while delivering dish soap into the hardest-to-reach nooks of my Nalgene. Bon Appétit, 12 Jan. 2022 Bailey was known for being abrasive and seeking publicity, Fishman told AP, adding. Catherine Garcia, The Week, 3 June 2021 The vinegar cuts through minerals, the alcohol allows quick evaporation for streak-free windows, and the cornstarch acts as an abrasive, Williford said. Washington Post, 27 Sep. 2021 The play’s plot centers on a famously abrasive, but comic and ultimately harmonious, courtship. BostonGlobe.com, 21 July 2021 Both activists called his demeanor abrasive and shocking. Elaine Ayala, San Antonio Express-News, 13 Dec. 2021 While the film was ostensibly about Honnold’s climbing feat, much of its emphasis was also on his clinical, fearless and sometimes abrasive personality. Los Angeles Times, 16 Oct. 2021 The man Smith plays is as abrasive as his scraggly beard, but also as charming as his sleepy eyes and trace of Louisiana accent. Mark Feeney, BostonGlobe.com, 16 Nov. 2021 Lemons make a wonderful cleaning tool thanks to the antibacterial properties of their acidic juice, and the abrasive quality of salt works well to scrub cutting boards. Samantha Hunter, Better Homes & Gardens, 12 Nov. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Baking soda is a gentle abrasive that cleans surfaces without scratching. Carolyn Forte, Good Housekeeping, 17 Aug. 2021 The tool has three sides, each with a different abrasive that’s designed for dry sharpening. Adrienne Donica, Popular Mechanics, 23 Feb. 2021 While the abrasive also has a big impact, slow-speed air sanders tend to bog down on softer surfaces like wood. Bob Beacham, chicagotribune.com, 12 Sep. 2020 Stubborn marks may need a gentle abrasive that won't scratch off paint finishes. Sara Rodrigues, House Beautiful, 7 Aug. 2020 When using a whitening toothpaste, always be sure to apply it with a soft or extra-soft bristled toothbrush to help counter the harsh abrasives in the paste that scrub off stains, says Sammadar. Brittany Loggins, Health.com, 22 Apr. 2020 Though Clorox wipes are okay to use, Apple still advises against using bleach, aerosol sprays, and abrasives. Isabel Garcia, House Beautiful, 10 Mar. 2020 Specifically, the multi-heavy mineral prospect consists of abrasives garne and epidote, and zircon, magnetite and gold. Elwood Brehmer, Anchorage Daily News, 7 Nov. 2019 The gentle abrasives in these formulas will help loosen stubborn residue that needs a bit of a nudge but isn’t totally welded onto your glass. Carolyn Forte, Good Housekeeping, 30 Apr. 2019

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


1601, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1850, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for abrasive


Latin abrāsus, past participle of abrādere "to scrape off, abrade" + -ive


derivative of abrasive entry 1

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Time Traveler for abrasive

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The first known use of abrasive was in 1601

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Dictionary Entries Near abrasive

abrasion platform


à bras ouverts

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Statistics for abrasive

Last Updated

16 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Abrasive.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/abrasive. Accessed 19 Jan. 2022.

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More Definitions for abrasive


abra·​sive | \ ə-ˈbrā-siv How to pronounce abrasive (audio) \

Kids Definition of abrasive

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a substance for grinding, smoothing, or polishing



Kids Definition of abrasive (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : causing damage or wear by rubbing
2 : very unpleasant or irritating an abrasive voice


abra·​sive | \ ə-ˈbrā-siv How to pronounce abrasive (audio) , -ziv How to pronounce abrasive (audio) \

Medical Definition of abrasive

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: tending to abrade an abrasive substance

Other Words from abrasive

abrasiveness noun



Medical Definition of abrasive (Entry 2 of 2)

: a substance (as emery or pumice) used for abrading, smoothing, or polishing

called also abradant

More from Merriam-Webster on abrasive

Nglish: Translation of abrasive for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of abrasive for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about abrasive


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