Meaning of ABUSE in English


I. əˈbyüz transitive verb

( -ed/-ing/-s )

Etymology: Middle English abusen, from Middle French abuser, from abus, n., abuse, from Latin abusus, past participle of abuti to consume, abuse, misuse, from ab- ab- (I) + uti to use — more at use


a. : to attack or injure with words : reproach coarsely : disparage

abuse a person in the most violent terms

b. obsolete : to speak falsely of : misrepresent

abused her to her friends

2. obsolete : to cause to believe the false : lead into error : deceive

the Moor's abused by some most villainous knave — Shakespeare


a. : to put to a use other than the one intended : misapply

abusing the privilege by invoking it for ends not sanctioned by law — Bernard Meltzer

: use or apply improperly or to excess

farmers have learned not to abuse the soil

b. : to put to a bad use : pervert

abused his power by profiting at the expense of others

: take unfair or undue advantage of

he has abused my confidence in letting this secret become known

4. : to use or treat so as to injure, hurt, or damage : maltreat

abuse a horse by overworking it

abuse one's eyes by reading in dim light

: treat without consideration or fairness

those left behind felt themselves abused


a. : masturbate

b. archaic : to violate sexually : rape

c. : to commit indecent assault on — compare abuse II 5

II. -üs noun

( -s )

Etymology: Middle English, from Middle French abus

1. : a corrupt practice or custom : offense , fault

the buying of votes and other election abuses

2. : improper or incorrect use : misuse

to call that state a democracy is an abuse of terms

: application to a wrong or bad purpose

the arbitrary punishments were an abuse of his power

3. obsolete : a deceitful act : deception , delusion

or is it some abuse , and no such thing — Shakespeare

4. : language that condemns or vilifies usually unjustly, intemperately, and angrily

bolshevist had become … a vague term of abuse — Rose Macaulay

the political harridans would … attack every possible leader with scandal and abuse — H.G.Wells


a. : the act of violating sexually : rape

b. under some statutes : rape or indecent assault not amounting to rape — compare carnal abuse , self-abuse

6. : physically harmful treatment : maltreatment , ill-usage

to be arrested for abuse of an animal

abuse of one's health


invective , obloquy , vituperation , scurrility , billingsgate : abuse , the most general word in this list of terms, may frequently indicate a speaker's angry intent to wound; it usually suggests lack of anything that is fair or temperate

now there is one word in the extended vocabulary of barrack-room abuse that cannot pass without comment … you must not call a man a bastard unless you are prepared to prove it on his front teeth — Rudyard Kipling

invective may apply to any denunciatory diatribe, but it often connotes a certain command of cogent language

John Bull stopped at nothing in the way of insult; but its blazing audacity of invective never degenerated into dull abuse — Agnes Repplier

Cicero replied in that masterpiece of invective known as the Fifth Philippic — John Buchan

This suggestion is not necessarily present

not the rapier of sarcasm but the bludgeon of invective — W.S.Maugham

obloquy may suggest language designed to shame another, language casting shame upon another

those who … stood by me in the teeth of obloquy, taunt and open sneer, or insult even — Oscar Wilde

to a symbol of obloquy, to an unanswerable epithet of derogation — Bliss Perry

vituperation suggests fluent, ready, and sustained abuse and castigation nastily delivered

hag, nuisance, shrew, termagant let loose, she assailed everybody who violated in the least her prejudices. Presidents were nagged beyond endurance, and senators, and congressmen: no one could escape the vials of her vituperation — F.L.Pattee

avoid reflections on the chastity of your opponent's female relations … Once you have gone so far it is impossible to retrace your steps and resort to minor forms of vituperation — Robert Graves

scurrility , the most uncomplimentary of these words, implies meanness or viciousness in attack and coarseness or foulness in language

interrupted in his defense by ribaldry and scurrility from the judgment seat — T.B.Macaulay

billingsgate may indicate very ready, easy profanity and obscenity delivered with practiced ease

the billingsgate slang they certainly have acquired in perfection, and no white would think of competing with them in abuse or hard swearing — Sidney Baker

an assortment of billingsgate that would have paralyzed a fishwife and brought blushes to a character in a Jim Tully novel or a Eugene O'Neill play — Herbert Asbury

Webster's New International English Dictionary.      Новый международный словарь английского языка Webster.