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abuse

[verb uh-byooz; noun uh-byoos]
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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.
  3. to speak insultingly, harshly, and unjustly to or about; revile; malign.
  4. to commit sexual assault upon.
  5. Obsolete. to deceive or mislead.
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noun
  1. wrong or improper use; misuse: the abuse of privileges.
  2. harshly or coarsely insulting language: The officer heaped abuse on his men.
  3. bad or improper treatment; maltreatment: The child was subjected to cruel abuse.
  4. a corrupt or improper practice or custom: the abuses of a totalitarian regime.
  5. rape or sexual assault.
  6. Obsolete. deception.
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Idioms
  1. abuse oneself, to masturbate.
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Origin of abuse

1400–50; (v.) late Middle English abusen < Middle French abuser, verbal derivative of abus < Latin abūsus misuse, wasting, equivalent to abūt(ī) to use up, misuse (ab- ab- + ūtī to use) + -tus suffix of v. action; (noun) late Middle English abus < Middle French abus or Latin abūsus
Related formsa·bus·a·ble [uh-byoo-zuh-buhl] /əˈbyu zə bəl/, adjectivea·bus·er, nounan·ti·a·buse, adjectiveo·ver·a·buse, noun, verb (used with object), o·ver·a·bused, o·ver·a·bus·ing.un·a·bus·a·ble, adjectiveun·a·bused, adjective

Synonyms

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Synonym study

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.

Antonyms

3, 7. praise.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words

harmviolatemaltreatimpaircorruptpersecutemistreatmisusemolestvictimizesquanderoffendrevileinsultexploitdefileroughhousemishandlepolluteill-treat

Examples from the Web for abusing

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • Now, sir, where's the good of your abusing me, as if it was my fault?

    The Channings

    Mrs. Henry Wood

  • Abusing Gurard, I went upstairs to my mother, whom I found at the open door.

    My Double Life

    Sarah Bernhardt

  • I am charged with being "dissatisfied with every thing, and abusing every body."

  • My-Boots understood, and again set to abusing the old Jew Colombe.

    L'Assommoir

    Emile Zola

  • He was abusing the ardent faith and trust of his disciples, this false apostle!

    A Nest of Spies

    Pierre Souvestre


British Dictionary definitions for abusing

abuse

verb (əˈbjuːz) (tr)
  1. to use incorrectly or improperly; misuse
  2. to maltreat, esp physically or sexually
  3. to speak insultingly or cruelly to; revile
  4. (reflexive) to masturbate
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noun (əˈbjuːs)
  1. improper, incorrect, or excessive use; misuse
  2. maltreatment of a person; injury
  3. insulting, contemptuous, or coarse speech
  4. an evil, unjust, or corrupt practice
  5. See child abuse
  6. archaic a deception
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Derived Formsabuser, noun

Word Origin

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

abuse

n.

mid-15c., "improper practice," from Old French abus (14c.), from Latin abusus (see abuse (v.)). Earlier in Middle English was abusion "wicked act or practice, shameful thing, violation of decency" (early 14c.), "an insult" (mid-14c.).

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abuse

v.

early 15c., "to misuse, misapply," from Middle French abuser, from Vulgar Latin *abusare, from Latin abusus "an abusing, using up," past participle of abuti "use up," also "misuse," from ab- "away" (see ab-) + uti "use" (see use). Of sexual situations from early 15c., but originally incest, homosexuality, prostitution, etc.; meaning "to misuse sexually, ravish" is from 1550s. Specifically of drugs, from 1968. Related: Abused; abusing.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

abusing in Medicine

abuse

(ə-byōōz)
v.
  1. To use wrongly or improperly; misuse.
  2. To hurt or injure physically by maltreatment.
  3. To force sexual activity on; rape or molest.
  4. To assail with contemptuous, coarse, or insulting words; revile.
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n.
  1. Improper use or handling, as of a drug; misuse.
  2. Physical maltreatment, as of a spouse or child.
  3. The forcing of unwanted sexual activity by one person on another.
  4. Sexual activity that is deemed improper or harmful, as between an adult and a minor or with a person of diminished mental capacity.
  5. Insulting or coarse language.
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Related formsa•buser n.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.