• synonyms


[noun mis-yoos; verb mis-yooz]
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  1. wrong or improper use; misapplication.
  2. Obsolete. bad or abusive treatment.
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verb (used with object), mis·used, mis·us·ing.
  1. to use wrongly or improperly; misapply.
  2. to treat badly or abusively; maltreat.
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Origin of misuse

Middle English word dating back to 1350–1400; see origin at mis-1, use


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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 misuse

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • Of little worth as life is when we misuse it, it is worth that effort.

    A Tale of Two Cities

    Charles Dickens

  • We found they knew, alas, too much about the misuse of everything growing in the field!

    Lotus Buds

    Amy Carmichael

  • They were provided thee; all that thou hast created is misuse!

    The Golden Fountain

    Lilian Staveley

  • In fine, we owe the success of this trick to the misuse of fine emotions.

  • And the only way of learning how to use properly a thing is through its misuse.

    My Reminiscences

    Rabindranath Tagore

British Dictionary definitions for misuse


noun (ˌmɪsˈjuːs) misusage
  1. erroneous, improper, or unorthodox usemisuse of words
  2. cruel or inhumane treatment
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verb (ˌmɪsˈjuːz) (tr)
  1. to use wrongly
  2. to treat badly or harshly
  3. to use (something, esp alcohol, drugs, etc) improperly
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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 misuse


late 14c., "to use improperly;" see mis- (1) + use (v.). Meaning "to subject to ill-treatment" is attested from 1530s. Related: Misused; misusing.

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late 14c., from mis- (1) + use (n.). It aligns with the older sense of the verb misuse.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper