verb (used with object)

to treat or handle badly, cruelly, or roughly; abuse: to maltreat a prisoner.

Origin of maltreat

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

Synonyms for maltreat Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for maltreat

victimize, misuse, harm, damage, mishandle, injure

Examples from the Web for maltreat

Contemporary Examples of maltreat

Historical Examples of maltreat

  • 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



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

Word Origin for maltreat

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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper