[ ni-glekt ]
/ nɪˈglɛkt /
Save This Word!
See synonyms for: neglect / neglected / neglecting / neglects on Thesaurus.com

verb (used with object)
an act or instance of neglecting; disregard; negligence: The neglect of the property was shameful.
the fact or state of being neglected: a beauty marred by neglect.
Smoothly step over to these common grammar mistakes that trip many people up. Good luck!
Question 1 of 7
Fill in the blank: I can’t figure out _____ gave me this gift.

Origin of neglect

First recorded in 1520–30; from Latin neglēctus, variant of neclēctus (past participle of neglegere, neclegere “to disregard, ignore, slight”), equivalent to nec “not” + leg-, base of legere “to pick up” + -tus past participle suffix

synonym study for neglect

1. See slight. 6, 7. Neglect, dereliction, negligence, remissness imply carelessness, failure, or some important omission in the performance of one's duty, a task, etc. Neglect and negligence are occasionally interchangeable, but neglect commonly refers to an instance, negligence to the habit or trait, of failing to attend to or perform what is expected or required: gross neglect of duty; negligence in handling traffic problems. Dereliction implies culpable or reprehensible neglect or failure in the performance of duty: dereliction in a position of responsibility. Remissness implies the omission or the careless or indifferent performance of a duty: remissness in filing a report on the accident.


Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What does neglect mean?

Neglect means to fail to pay enough attention to someone or something or to not do enough to properly care for someone or something.

In terms of things, neglect usually means that you haven’t maintained them properly. To neglect your car is to fail to make sure it gets the maintenance it needs to keep running properly. To neglect your health is to fail to do anything to maintain it. To neglect your duties is to disregard them, often due to being preoccupied with other things.

When it’s used in the context of people, neglect implies a lack of attention and care. When you neglect a friend or romantic partner, it means you don’t spend enough time with them or you fail to consider or care about their emotional needs. However, the word neglect is often associated with even more serious situations. When the word is used in relation to the care of children, it means to fail to properly care for them in a way that’s equivalent to mistreatment or abuse. This is sometimes called negligence (which is a synonym of neglect and is based on the same root).

As a verb, neglect can also mean to fail to do something, such as through indifference, thoughtlessness, or carelessness. This sense of the verb is typically followed by another verb (in its infinitive form), as in I neglected to check a single box on the form and now I have to start over. 

Neglect is also commonly used as a noun meaning the act or an instance of neglecting, as in These children are victims of neglect, or the state of being neglected, as in The house was in a state of neglect.

The adjective neglectful can be used to describe a person who neglects or their actions. The word neglected can also be used as an adjective, as in neglected children. 

Example: After years of neglect, these pets are being adopted into loving homes.

Where does neglect come from?

The first records of the word neglect come from the 1500s. It comes from the Latin neclēctus, from the verb neglegere, meaning “to disregard, ignore, slight.” The first part of the verb neglegere comes from a word meaning “not,” and its base word, legere, means “to pick up.”

If you neglect to pick up after yourself, you’ll end up with a mess. Neglecting things typically involves letting them fall into a state of disrepair or decay. Neglecting people is often more serious, and can involve physical or emotional neglect or both. Those commercials on TV that show neglected children or neglected animals are intended to make you empathetic so that you donate to help ensure that they are provided with proper care.

Did you know ... ?

What are some other forms related to neglect

  • neglectful (adjective)
  • neglected (past tense verb, adjective)
  • neglectedness (noun)
  • neglecter (noun)

What are some synonyms for neglect?

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

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

How is neglect used in real life?

Neglect is a common word that can be used in a variety of situations. When it’s used in relation to children, it usually implies abuse.


Try using neglect!

Which of the following things can result in a state of neglect

A. lack of attention
B. lack of proper care
C. lack of maintenance
D. all of the above

How to use neglect in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for neglect

/ (nɪˈɡlɛkt) /

verb (tr)
to fail to give due care, attention, or time toto neglect a child
to fail (to do something) through thoughtlessness or carelessnesshe neglected to tell her
to ignore or disregardshe neglected his frantic signals
lack of due care or attention; negligencethe child starved through neglect
the act or an instance of neglecting or the state of being neglected

Derived forms of neglect

neglecter or neglector, noun

Word Origin for neglect

C16: from Latin neglegere to neglect, from nec not + legere to select
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