See more synonyms for abusive on Thesaurus.com
  1. using, containing, or characterized by harshly or coarsely insulting language: an abusive author; abusive remarks.
  2. treating badly or injuriously; mistreating, especially physically: his abusive handling of the horse.
  3. wrongly used; corrupt: an abusive exercise of power.

Origin of abusive

From the Late Latin word abūsīvus, dating back to 1575–85. See abuse, -ive
Related formsa·bu·sive·ly, adverba·bu·sive·ness, nounnon·a·bu·sive, adjectivenon·a·bu·sive·ly, adverbnon·a·bu·sive·ness, nouno·ver·a·bu·sive, adjectiveo·ver·a·bu·sive·ly, adverbo·ver·a·bu·sive·ness, nounun·a·bu·sive, adjectiveun·a·bu·sive·ly, adverbun·a·bu·sive·ness, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for abusive


  1. characterized by insulting or coarse language
  2. characterized by maltreatment
  3. incorrectly used; corrupt
Derived Formsabusively, adverbabusiveness, 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

Word Origin and History for abusive

1530s (implied in abusively), originally "improper," from Middle French abusif, from Latin abusivus, from abus-, past participle stem of abuti (see abuse (v.)). Meaning "full of abuse" is from 1580s. Abuseful was used 17c., and Shakespeare has abusious ("Taming of the Shrew," 1594). Related: Abusiveness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper