• (RP) IPA: /əˈbjuːs/
  • (GA) enPR: əbyo͞os', IPA: /əˈbjus/


  1. Improper treatment or usage; application to a wrong or bad purpose; an unjust, corrupt or wrongful practice or custom. [from around 1350 to 1470]
    All abuse, whether physical, verbal, psychological or sexual, is bad.
    Synonyms: misuse
  2. Misuse; improper use; perversion. [from mid 16th c.]
    • 1788, Federalist, James Madison, Number 63
      Liberty may be endangered by the abuses of liberty, as well as by the abuses of power.
  3. (obsolete) A delusion; an imposture; misrepresentation; deception. [from mid 16th c. – mid 17th c.]
  4. Coarse, insulting speech; abusive language; language that unjustly or angrily vilifies. [from mid 16th c.]
    • 1950 February 11, Alhaji Na-Alhaji in Gaskiya Fa Ti Kwabo:
      But he and all the southerners who indulge in this abuse in the newspapers should realize that this will not enable us to find a solution to our problem but will merely aggravate it.
    Synonyms: invective, contumely, reproach, scurrility, insult, opprobrium
  5. (now, rare)   Catachresis. [from late 16th c.]
  6. Physical maltreatment; injury; cruel treatment. [from late 16th c.]
  7. Violation; defilement; rape; forcing of undesired sexual activity by one person on another, often on a repeated basis. [from late 16th c.]
Translations Translations Translations Translations Translations Pronunciation
  • (RP) IPA: /əˈbjuːz/
  • (GA) IPA: /əˈbjuz/, enPR: əbyo͞oz'

abuse (abuses, present participle abusing; past and past participle abused)

  1. (transitive) To put to a wrong use; to misapply; to use improperly; to misuse; to use for a wrong purpose or end; to pervert [from around 1350 to 1470.]
    He abused his authority.
  2. (transitive) To injure; to maltreat; to hurt; to treat with cruelty, especially repeatedly. [from mid 16th c.]
    Synonyms: maltreat, injure
  3. (transitive) To attack with coarse language; to insult; to revile; malign; to speak in an offensive manner to or about someone; to disparage. [from early 17th c.]
    Synonyms: revile, reproach, vilify, vituperate, Thesaurus:offend
    • 18, Thomas Babington Macaulay, chapter 14, in The History of England from the Accession of James the Second, volume (please specify ), London: Longman, Brown, Green, and Longmans, OCLC 1069526323 ↗:
    • 1991, Yakubu Yahaya, quoted in: 2001, Toyin Falola, Violence in Nigeria: The Crisis of Religious Politics and Secular Ideologies, p. 199:
      So we were angered by this and we could not tolerate this one because prophet Mohammed has been abused so many times in this country. Awolowo abused him sometimes ago saying that he was more successful and popular that[sic] Mohammed and Jesus.
  4. (transitive) To imbibe a drug for a purpose other than it was intended; to intentionally take more of a drug than was prescribed for recreational reasons; to take illegal drugs habitually. [from mid 20th c.]
  5. (transitive, archaic) To violate; defile; to rape. [from around 1350 to 1470]
  6. (transitive, obsolete) Misrepresent; adulterate. [from around 1350 to 1470 – mid 18th c.]
  7. (transitive, obsolete) To deceive; to trick; to impose on; misuse the confidence of. [from late 15th c. – early 19th c.]
    • 1651-2, Jeremy Taylor, "Sermon VI, The House of Feasting; or, The Epicures Measures", in The works of Jeremy Taylor, Volume 1, page 283 (1831), edited by Thomas Smart Hughes
      When Cyrus had espied Astyages and his fellows coming drunk from a banquet loaden with variety of follies and filthiness, their legs failing them, their eyes red and staring, cozened with a moist cloud and abused by a double object
  8. (transitive, obsolete, Scotland) Disuse. [from late 15th century – mid 16th c.]
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