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See more synonyms for abandon on Thesaurus.com
verb (used with object)
  1. to leave completely and finally; forsake utterly; desert: to abandon one's farm; to abandon a child; to abandon a sinking ship.
  2. to give up; discontinue; withdraw from: to abandon a research project; to abandon hopes for a stage career.
  3. to give up the control of: to abandon a city to an enemy army.
  4. to yield (oneself) without restraint or moderation; give (oneself) over to natural impulses, usually without self-control: to abandon oneself to grief.
  5. Law. to cast away, leave, or desert, as property or a child.
  6. Insurance. to relinquish (insured property) to the underwriter in case of partial loss, thus enabling the insured to claim a total loss.
  7. Obsolete. to banish.
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Origin of abandon1

1325–75; Middle English abando(u)nen < Middle French abandoner for Old French (mettre) a bandon (put) under (someone's) jurisdiction, equivalent to a at, to (< Latin ad; see ad-) + bandon < Germanic *band; see bond1
Related formsa·ban·don·a·ble, adjectivea·ban·don·er, nouna·ban·don·ment, nounnon·a·ban·don·ment, nounun·a·ban·don·ing, adjective


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Synonym study

1. See desert2. 2. Abandon, relinquish, renounce mean to give up all concern in something. Abandon means to give up or discontinue any further interest in something because of discouragement, weariness, distaste, or the like: to abandon one's efforts. Relinquish implies being or feeling compelled to give up something one would prefer to keep: to relinquish a long-cherished desire. Renounce implies making (and perhaps formally stating) a voluntary decision to give something up: to renounce worldly pleasures.



  1. a complete surrender to natural impulses without restraint or moderation; freedom from inhibition or conventionality: to dance with reckless abandon.
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Origin of abandon2

1815–25; < French, noun derivative of abandonner to abandon1


à l'abandon

[a la-bahn-dawn]
adverb French.
  1. carelessly; recklessly.
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Origin of à l'abandon

literally, with abandon
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words


Examples from the Web for abandon

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • The men laid down their loads, and sprawled about in abandon.

    The Leopard Woman

    Stewart Edward White

  • It seemed to her heart-breaking that Martin must be forced to abandon the only things for which he cared.


    Mr. and Mrs. Haldeman-Julius

  • Abandon her not until you leave her in the habitations of civilized men.

    The Last of the Mohicans

    James Fenimore Cooper

  • But doth not Horatio doat on me, and may he not in despair break his heart if I abandon him?

    Joseph Andrews Vol. 1

    Henry Fielding

  • It was about the 24th or 25th of January, that they resolved to abandon the ship.

    The Field of Ice

    Jules Verne

British Dictionary definitions for abandon


verb (tr)
  1. to forsake completely; desert; leave behindto abandon a baby; drivers had to abandon their cars
  2. abandon ship the order given to the crew of a ship that is about to sink to take to the lifeboats
  3. to give up completelyto abandon a habit; to abandon hope
  4. to yield control of or concern in; relinquishto abandon office
  5. to give up (something begun) before completionto abandon a job; the game was abandoned
  6. to surrender (oneself) to emotion without restraint
  7. to give (insured property that has suffered partial loss or damage) to the insurers in order that a claim for a total loss may be made
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  1. freedom from inhibitions, restraint, concern, or worryshe danced with abandon
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Derived Formsabandonment, noun

Word Origin

C14: abandounen (vb), from Old French, from a bandon under one's control, in one's power, from a at, to + bandon control, power
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for abandon


late 14c., "to give up, surrender (oneself or something), give over utterly; to yield (oneself) utterly (to religion, fornication, etc.)," from Old French abandoner (12c.), from adverbial phrase à bandon "at will, at discretion," from à "at, to" (see ad-) + bandon "power, jurisdiction," from Latin bannum, "proclamation," from a Frankish word related to ban (v.).

Mettre sa forest à bandon was a feudal law phrase in the 13th cent. = mettre sa forêt à permission, i.e. to open it freely to any one for pasture or to cut wood in; hence the later sense of giving up one's rights for a time, letting go, leaving, abandoning. [Auguste Brachet, "An Etymological Dictionary of the French Language," transl. G.W. Kitchin, Oxford, 1878]

Etymologically, the word carries a sense of "put someone under someone else's control." Meaning "to give up absolutely" is from late 14c. Related: Abandoned; abandoning.

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"a letting loose, surrender to natural impulses," 1822, from a sense in French abandon (see abandon (v.). Borrowed earlier (c.1400) from French in a sense "(someone's) control;" and cf. Middle English adverbial phrase at abandon, i.e. "recklessly," attested from late 14c.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper