1. using, containing, or characterized by harshly or coarsely insulting language: an abusive author; abusive remarks.
  2. treating badly or injuriously; mistreating, especially physically: his abusive handling of the horse.
  3. wrongly used; corrupt: an abusive exercise of power.

Origin of abusive

From the Late Latin word abūsīvus, dating back to 1575–85. See abuse, -ive
Related formsa·bu·sive·ly, adverba·bu·sive·ness, nounnon·a·bu·sive, adjectivenon·a·bu·sive·ly, adverbnon·a·bu·sive·ness, nouno·ver·a·bu·sive, adjectiveo·ver·a·bu·sive·ly, adverbo·ver·a·bu·sive·ness, nounun·a·bu·sive, adjectiveun·a·bu·sive·ly, adverbun·a·bu·sive·ness, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for non-abusive


  1. characterized by insulting or coarse language
  2. characterized by maltreatment
  3. incorrectly used; corrupt
Derived Formsabusively, adverbabusiveness, noun
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 non-abusive



1530s (implied in abusively), originally "improper," from Middle French abusif, from Latin abusivus, from abus-, past participle stem of abuti (see abuse (v.)). Meaning "full of abuse" is from 1580s. Abuseful was used 17c., and Shakespeare has abusious ("Taming of the Shrew," 1594). Related: Abusiveness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper