[noun mis-yoos; verb mis-yooz]
See more synonyms for misuse on Thesaurus.com
verb (used with object), mis·used, mis·us·ing.
  1. to use wrongly or improperly; misapply.
  2. to treat badly or abusively; maltreat.

Origin of misuse

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

Synonyms for misuse

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

Examples from the Web for misused

Contemporary Examples of misused

Historical Examples of misused

  • The bread was genuine homemade, a term so often misused in the cities.

  • Plotinus is a mystic, then, though not at all in the sense in which the term is often misused.

  • The physicians do not like to touch a tool which has been misused so badly.


    Hugo Mnsterberg

  • In speaking and in writing of stage matters, these words are often misused.

    The Verbalist

    Thomas Embly Osmun, (AKA Alfred Ayres)

  • The sense in which it is misused is that of immodest, indecent.

    The Verbalist

    Thomas Embly Osmun, (AKA Alfred Ayres)

British Dictionary definitions for misused


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



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



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

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper