View synonyms for abusive


[ uh-byoo-siv ]


  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.


/ əˈbjuːsɪv /


  1. characterized by insulting or coarse language
  2. characterized by maltreatment
  3. incorrectly used; corrupt

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Derived Forms

  • aˈbusively, adverb
  • aˈbusiveness, noun

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Other Words From

  • a·busive·ly adverb
  • a·busive·ness noun
  • nona·busive adjective
  • nona·busive·ly adverb
  • nona·busive·ness noun
  • over·a·busive adjective
  • over·a·busive·ly adverb
  • over·a·busive·ness noun
  • una·busive adjective
  • una·busive·ly adverb
  • una·busive·ness noun

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Word History and Origins

Origin of abusive1

From the Late Latin word abūsīvus, dating back to 1575–85. See abuse, -ive

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Example Sentences

Unfortunately, some abusive users were beginning to use Send to distribute malware and as part of spear phishing attacks.

Across the United States, cities are experiencing turbulence and a rise in gun violence following the protests of abusive policing sparked by the May 25 death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Pender told NBC Washington in an interview that he initially had a consensual relationship with Grant and Grant became abusive after Pender ended the relationship.

Apart from this, Twitter authorities also informed about efforts being taken to automate the removal of abusive and manipulated posts.

So the implication is, you can make your kids stupider by being a bad parent, particularly if you’re abusive or something like that.

They witnessed and experienced the same types of abusive events, Fenner claims.

And so it goes, another chapter written in the mutually abusive relationship of bad government and bad culture.

That would put a real crimp in the dating seminars of a man who actively encourages abusive behavior toward women.

Julien Blanc says he can teach any man to bed women successfully thanks to easy—and very abusive—techniques.

But she was very abusive to the girls, with punishments ranging from being called ugly to getting beaten with a baseball bat.

He delivered to the Secretary of State a note abusive and impertinent beyond all example and all endurance.

One day Captain Bainbridge, of the Essex, was talked to in an abusive way, and said little back.

Pointing his musket first at one and then at another, he returned yell for yell, and was in fact abusive.

If you had not prevented him, that blackguard would have used abusive language to me and ranged himself on your side.

But his vehement and abusive style of declamation could not in debate be compared with the calm reasoning of Castlereagh.


Related Words

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About This Word

What does abusive mean?

Warning: This article involves discussion of the sensitive topics of physical and emotional abuse. If you or someone you know needs support, please visit the National Domestic Violence Hotline site to chat or call the hotline at 1-800-799-7233. 

Abusive is an adjective used to describe a person who abuses a person or an animal—mistreats and causes harm to them. It can also be used to describe such a person’s actions.

The noun abuse refers to such mistreatment. A person who abuses someone can be called an abuser.

The kind of abuse is sometimes specified before the word abusive, as in physically abusive and emotionally abuse.

Example: Just because it’s not physical doesn’t mean it’s not abusive—emotional abuse can leave its own scars.

Where does abusive come from?

The first records of the word abusive come from the 1500s. It’s an adjective form of abuse, which comes from the Latin abūsus, from the Latin verb abūtī, meaning “to misuse.” The prefix ab- means “outside of” or “opposite to.”

When someone is labeled as abusive, it often means they have repeatedly abused someone. We often think of abuse as a repeated behavior, and it often is, but even a single instance of mistreatment qualifies as abuse. Unfortunately, people can be abusive in many ways, and those forms are often specified along with the word. An abusive relationship is one in which one or both of the partners abuses the other.

While the word abuse can be applied to less serious situations (like to refer to the misuse or overuse of objects), abusive almost always refers to the mistreatment of people or animals.

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What are some other forms related to abusive?

  • abuse (verb, noun)
  • abusively (adverb)
  • abusiveness (noun)
  • non-abusive (noun)

What are some words that share a root or word element with abusive


What are some words that often get used in discussing abusive?

How is abusive used in real life?

Abusive is always used negatively to describe an abuser or their actions.






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