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See more synonyms for maltreat on Thesaurus.com
verb (used with object)
  1. to treat or handle badly, cruelly, or roughly; abuse: to maltreat a prisoner.
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Origin of maltreat

1700–10; earlier maltrait < French maltraiter. See mal-, treat
Related formsmal·treat·er, nounmal·treat·ment, noun
Can be confusedmaltreatment mistreatment


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

Related Words


Examples from the Web for maltreat

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • The peoples of Europe can maltreat, but happily not judge one another.

  • It was contrary to all the homely traditions at the farm to kill or maltreat a toad.

    When Life Was Young

    C. A. Stephens

  • Consequently my uncle looked upon me as useless, and began to maltreat me again.


    George Sand

  • Crosby was her property, to browbeat and maltreat as seemed best to her.

    The Madigans

    Miriam Michelson

  • You may maltreat him when I am away, but not before my eyes.

    The Little Clay Cart

    (Attributed To) King Shudraka

British Dictionary definitions for maltreat


  1. (tr) to treat badly, cruelly, or inconsiderately
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Derived Formsmaltreater, nounmaltreatment, noun

Word Origin

C18: from French maltraiter
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 maltreat


1708, from French maltraiter, or formed in English from mal- + treat (v.). Related: Maltreated; maltreating.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper