AskDefine | Define abuse

Dictionary Definition



1 cruel or inhumane treatment [syn: maltreatment, ill-treatment, ill-usage]
2 a rude expression intended to offend or hurt; "when a student made a stupid mistake he spared them no abuse"; "they yelled insults at the visiting team" [syn: insult, revilement, contumely, vilification]
3 improper or excessive use [syn: misuse]


1 treat badly; "This boss abuses his workers"; "She is always stepping on others to get ahead" [syn: mistreat, maltreat, ill-use, step, ill-treat]
2 change the inherent purpose or function of something; "Don't abuse the system"; "The director of the factory misused the funds intended for the health care of his workers" [syn: pervert, misuse]
3 use foul or abusive language towards; "The actress abused the policeman who gave her a parking ticket"; "The angry mother shouted at the teacher" [syn: clapperclaw, blackguard, shout]

User Contributed Dictionary


Etymology 1

From or abus, or abusus.


  • RP:
    • /əˈbjuːs/
    • /@"bju:s/
  • US:
    • /əˈbjus/
    • /@"bjus/


  1. Improper treatment or usage; application to a wrong or bad purpose; misuse; perversion.
    • Liberty may be endangered by the abuses of liberty, as well as by the abuses of power. - Madison
  2. Physical maltreatment; injury.
  3. Sexual assault; violation; rape.
  4. An unjust, corrupt or wrongful practice or custom; offense; crime; fault.
  5. Coarse, insulting speech; abusive language.
    • The two parties, after exchanging a good deal of abuse, came to blows. - Macaulay
improper usage
  • Danish: misbrug
  • Dutch: misbruik , verkeerd gebruik
  • Finnish: väärinkäyttö
  • French: abus
  • German: Missbrauch (or Mißbrauch)
  • Greek: κατάχρηση
  • Hebrew: ניצול לרעה
  • Hindi: दुरूपयोग
  • Italian: abuso
  • Japanese: 濫用
  • Norwegian: misbruk
  • Polish: nadużycie
  • Portuguese: abuso
  • Russian: злоупотребление
  • Swedish: missbruk
  • Tagalog: abuso
physical maltreatment
sexual assault
a corrupt practice
  • Dutch: misbruik
  • Finnish: väärinkäyttö
  • French: abus
  • German: Missbrauch (alternative Mißbrauch)
  • Greek: κατάχρηση
  • Italian: abuso
  • Norwegian: misbruk
  • Portuguese: abuso
  • Tagalog: abuso
insulting speech
  • Dutch: beschimpingen
  • Finnish: solvaus, herjaus
  • Greek: βρισιές f|p
  • Hebrew: השתלחות
  • Hindi: अपशब्द rfscript Devanagari
  • Norwegian: utskjelling
  • Portuguese: abuso
  • Russian: оскорбление, брань, ругань
  • Tagalog: abuso
Translations to be categorised

Etymology 2

From or abuser, from abusus, past participle stem of abuti, from ab- + uti "to use".


  • RP:
    • /əˈbjuːz/
    • /@"bju:z</
  • US:
    • /əˈbjuz/
    • /@"bjuz/


  1. To put to a wrong use; to misapply; to use improperly; to misuse; to use for a wrong purpose or end; to pervert; as, to abuse one's authority.
    • This principle (if one may so abuse the word) shoots rapidly into popularity. - Froude
  2. To injure; to maltreat; to hurt; to treat with cruelty.
  3. To rape; to assault; to ravish.
  4. To attack with coarse language; to insult; to revile.
  5. To deceive; to trick; to impose on.
    Their eyes red and staring, cozened with a moist cloud, and abused by a double object. - Jeremy Taylor
Derived terms
to use improperly
  • Danish: misbruge
  • Dutch: misbruiken, verkeerd gebruiken
  • Finnish: väärinkäyttää
  • French: abuser
  • German: missbrauchen
  • Hebrew: ניצל לרעה
  • Italian: abusare
  • Japanese: 濫用する
  • Norwegian: misbruke
  • Portuguese: abusar
  • Russian: злоупотреблять
  • Swedish: missbruka
to hurt
  • Danish: mishandle
  • Dutch: mishandelen
  • Finnish: pahoinpidellä
  • French: abuser
  • German: missbrauchen
  • Hebrew: התעלל
  • Italian: abusare
  • Japanese: 酷使する; 虐待する
  • Norwegian: mishandle
  • Portuguese: abusar
  • Russian: издеваться
  • Swedish: misshandla
to rape
to insult
to deceive
Translations to be checked


Extensive Definition

Abuse refers to the use or treatment of something (a person, item, substance, concept, or vocabulary) that is seen as harmful.
Several types of abuse include:
abuse in Catalan: Abús
abuse in German: Missbrauch
abuse in French: Maltraitance
abuse in Italian: Abuso
abuse in Hebrew: התעללות
abuse in Hungarian: Visszaélés
abuse in Japanese: 虐待
abuse in Polish: Abuse (internet)
abuse in Portuguese: Abuso
abuse in Romanian: Abuz
abuse in Russian: Злоупотребление
abuse in Sicilian: Abbusu
abuse in Simple English: Abuse
abuse in Turkish: İstismar
abuse in Yiddish: באלעסטיגן

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

abuse of office, addiction, afflict, aggrieve, assail, assailing, assault, atrocity, attack, bark at, batter, befoul, befoulment, belittle, berate, berating, betongue, betray, betrayal, bewitch, billingsgate, bitter words, blacken, blackening, blackguard, blaspheme, bleed, bleed white, blight, bruise, buffet, call names, calumniate, calumniation, calumny, catachresis, censure, condemn, contumely, conversion, convert, corrupt, corrupt administration, corruption, criminal assault, crucify, curse, cursing, cuss out, damage, damn, debase, debasement, debauch, debauchment, deceive, decry, defalcate, defalcation, defamation, defame, defile, defilement, defloration, deflower, deflowering, dependence, deprave, deprecate, depreciate, derogate, desecrate, desecration, despoil, despoilment, destroy, detract from, diatribe, disadvantage, discount, disparage, dispraise, disserve, distress, diversion, divert, do a mischief, do evil, do ill, do violence to, do wrong, do wrong by, do wrong to, doom, drain, embezzle, embezzlement, envenom, epithet, epithetize, execrate, execration, exploit, fault, force, foul, fouling, fulminate against, get into trouble, harass, hard words, harm, hex, hurt, ill use, ill-treat, ill-treatment, ill-usage, ill-use, impair, impose, impose upon, imprecation, infect, injure, injury, insult, invective, jaw, jawing, jeremiad, jinx, knock about, lambaste, lead astray, libel, load with reproaches, make use of, maladminister, maladministration, malediction, malfeasance, malign, maligning, malpractice, maltreat, maltreatment, malversation, manhandle, manipulate, mar, masturbation, maul, menace, mess up, milk, minimize, misapplication, misapply, misappropriate, misappropriation, misconduct, misemploy, misemployment, misfeasance, mishandle, mishandling, mislead, mismanage, mismanagement, mistreat, mistreatment, misusage, misuse, molest, molestation, mud, objurgate, objurgation, obloquy, onslaught, oppress, opprobrium, outrage, peculate, peculation, persecute, perversion, pervert, philippic, pilfer, pilfering, play havoc with, play hob with, play on, poison, pollute, pollution, poor stewardship, prejudice, presume upon, priapism, profanation, profane, profanity, prostitute, prostitution, rag, rail at, railing, rape, rate, rating, ravage, rave against, ravish, ravishment, rebuke, reproach, revile, revilement, reviling, rough, rough up, ruin, savage, scathe, scold, scolding, screed, scurrility, seduce, seducement, seduction, self-abuse, sexual assault, slander, soil, spoil, stroke, suck dry, sully, swear, swear at, swearing, taint, take advantage of, threaten, thunder against, tirade, tongue-lash, tongue-lashing, torment, torture, traduce, upbraid, upbraiding, use, use ill, vilification, vilify, violate, violation, violence, vituperate, vituperation, work on, work upon, wound, wreak havoc on, write off, wrong, yell at, yelp at
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