[ verb uh-byooz; noun uh-byoos ]
See synonyms for: abuseabusedabusingabuser on Thesaurus.com

verb (used with object),a·bused, a·bus·ing.
  1. to use wrongly or improperly; misuse: to abuse one's authority.

  2. to treat in a harmful, injurious, or offensive way: to abuse a horse; to abuse one's eyesight.

  1. to speak insultingly, harshly, and unjustly to or about; revile; malign.

  2. to commit sexual assault upon.

  3. Obsolete. to deceive or mislead.

  1. wrong or improper use; misuse: the abuse of privileges.

  2. harshly or coarsely insulting language: The officer heaped abuse on his men.

  1. bad or improper treatment; maltreatment: The child was subjected to cruel abuse.

  2. a corrupt or improper practice or custom: the abuses of a totalitarian regime.

  3. rape or sexual assault.

  4. Obsolete. deception.

Idioms about abuse

  1. abuse oneself, to masturbate.

Origin of abuse

First recorded in 1400–50; (for the noun) late Middle English abus, from Middle French, from Latin abūsus “misuse, waste,” noun use of past participle of abūtī “to use up, misuse,” from ab- ab- + ūtī “to use, employ, enjoy”; see also use; verb derivative of the noun

synonym study For abuse

7. Abuse, censure, invective all mean strongly expressed disapproval. Abuse implies an outburst of harsh and scathing words against another (often one who is defenseless): abuse directed against an opponent. Censure implies blame, adverse criticism, or hostile condemnation: severe censure of acts showing bad judgment. Invective applies to strong but formal denunciation in speech or print, often in the public interest: invective against graft.

Other words for abuse

Opposites for abuse

Other words from abuse

  • a·bus·a·ble [uh-byoo-zuh-buhl], /əˈbyu zə bəl/, adjective
  • a·bus·er, noun
  • an·ti·a·buse, adjective
  • o·ver·a·buse, noun, verb (used with object), o·ver·a·bused, o·ver·a·bus·ing.
  • un·a·bus·a·ble, adjective
  • un·a·bused, adjective

Words Nearby abuse

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use abuse in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for abuse


verb(əˈbjuːz) (tr)
  1. to use incorrectly or improperly; misuse

  2. to maltreat, esp physically or sexually

  1. to speak insultingly or cruelly to; revile

  2. (reflexive) to masturbate

  1. improper, incorrect, or excessive use; misuse

  2. maltreatment of a person; injury

  1. insulting, contemptuous, or coarse speech

  2. an evil, unjust, or corrupt practice

  3. archaic a deception

Origin of abuse

c14 (vb): via Old French from Latin abūsus, past participle of abūtī to misuse, from ab- 1 + ūtī to use

Derived forms of abuse

  • abuser, noun

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