Also found in: Thesaurus, Medical, Legal, Idioms, Wikipedia.


tr.v. a·bused, a·bus·ing, a·bus·es
1. To use improperly or excessively; misuse: abuse alcohol; abuse a privilege.
2. To hurt or injure by maltreatment; ill-use: animals that were abused by a negligent owner.
3. To force sexual activity on; rape or molest.
4. To assail with insulting or hurtful words; revile.
5. Obsolete To deceive or trick.
n. (ə-byo͞os′)
a. Improper or excessive use; misuse: abuse of authority; drug abuse.
b. Rough treatment or use: shoes that have taken a lot of abuse.
a. Physical maltreatment or violence: spousal abuse.
b. Sexual abuse.
c. Insulting or hurtful language, especially when used to threaten or demoralize: subjected her subordinates to verbal abuse.
3. An unjust or wrongful practice: a government that commits abuses against its citizens.
abuse oneself
To masturbate.

[Middle English abusen, from Old French abuser, from abus, improper use, from Latin abūsus, past participle of abūtī, to misuse : ab-, away; see ab-1 + ūtī, to use.]

a·bus′er n.
Synonyms: abuse, misuse, mistreat, ill-treat, maltreat
These verbs mean to treat wrongfully or harmfully. Abuse applies to injurious or improper treatment: "We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us" (Aldo Leopold).
Misuse stresses incorrect or unknowledgeable handling: "How often misused words generate misleading thoughts" (Herbert Spencer).
Mistreat, ill-treat, and maltreat all share the sense of inflicting injury, often intentionally: "I had seen many more patients die from being mistreated for consumption than from consumption itself" (Earl of Lytton)."Experienced people ... become suspicious of those who by their own account are invariably ill-treated by the world" (Bertrand Russell)."[The professor was charged with] underpaying, neglecting, or otherwise maltreating his assistants" (David Rains Wallace).
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Adj.1.abused - used improperly or excessively especially drugsabused - used improperly or excessively especially drugs; "an abused substance"
misused - used incorrectly or carelessly or for an improper purpose; "misused words are often laughable but one weeps for misused talents"
2.abused - subjected to cruel treatment; "an abused wife"
unabused - not physically abused; treated properly
Based on WordNet 3.0, Farlex clipart collection. © 2003-2012 Princeton University, Farlex Inc.
References in classic literature ?
The spurious wise, however, all the priests, the world-weary, and those whose souls are of feminine and servile nature--oh, how hath their game all along abused selfishness!
The studied indifference, insolence, and discontent of her husband gave her no pain; and when he scolded or abused her, she was highly diverted.
Gryphus again went up in his fury to Van Baerle, abused him, threatened him, knocked all the miserable furniture of his cell about, and promised him all sorts of misery, even starvation and flogging.
Cornelius, without even hearing what his jailer said, allowed himself to be ill-treated, abused, and threatened, remaining all the while sullen, immovable, dead to every emotion and fear.
As usual, the fickle, unreasoning world took Muff Potter to its bosom and fondled him as lavishly as it had abused him before.
On ordinary occasions it might not be exerted with the requisite firmness, and on extraordinary occasions it might be perfidiously abused. May not this defect of an absolute negative be supplied by some qualified connection between this weaker department and the weaker branch of the stronger department, by which the latter may be led to support the constitutional rights of the former, without being too much detached from the rights of its own department?
For the following study, researchers incorporated nearly 2,000 calls between August 2014 and June 2017 with more than 42 per cent (818 calls) alleging they had been abused.
Psychopathology in a large cohort of sexually abused children followed up to 43 years.Child Abuse Negl.
Emotional the most type by Nearly a fifth of men abused by partners (18 per cent) said they had been stalked, while 2.4 per cent had been the victims of indecent exposure or unwanted sexual touching.
National statistics about sexual assault revealed further horrifying facts, 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys are sexually abused as minors, that is before they turn 18.
While citing four particular instances where children aged below 12 years were reportedly abused by a family member or an outsider in their homes or at an educational facility, PEC Department director Khalid al-Ansari said the number of abuse cases being presented and reported to the PECs is increasing.