verb (used with object), a·bused, a·bus·ing.

  1. to use wrongly or improperly; misuse: to abuse one’s authority.
  2. to treat in a harmful, injurious, or offensive way: to abuse a horse; to abuse one’s eyesight.
  3. to speak insultingly, harshly, and unjustly to or about; revile; malign.
  4. to commit sexual assault upon.
  5. Obsolete. to deceive or mislead.


  1. wrong or improper use; misuse: the abuse of privileges.
  2. harshly or coarsely insulting language: The officer heaped abuse on his men.
  3. bad or improper treatment; maltreatment: The child was subjected to cruel abuse.
  4. a corrupt or improper practice or custom: the abuses of a totalitarian regime.
  5. rape or sexual assault.
  6. Obsolete. deception.

  1. abuse oneself, to masturbate.

verb (əˈbjuːz) (tr)

  1. to use incorrectly or improperly; misuse
  2. to maltreat, esp physically or sexually
  3. to speak insultingly or cruelly to; revile
  4. (reflexive) to masturbate

noun (əˈbjuːs)

  1. improper, incorrect, or excessive use; misuse
  2. maltreatment of a person; injury
  3. insulting, contemptuous, or coarse speech
  4. an evil, unjust, or corrupt practice
  5. See child abuse
  6. archaic a deception

early 15c., “to misuse, misapply,” from Middle French abuser, from Vulgar Latin *abusare, from Latin abusus “an abusing, using up,” past participle of abuti “use up,” also “misuse,” from ab- “away” (see ab-) + uti “use” (see use). Of sexual situations from early 15c., but originally incest, homosexuality, prostitution, etc.; meaning “to misuse sexually, ravish” is from 1550s. Specifically of drugs, from 1968. Related: Abused; abusing.


mid-15c., “improper practice,” from Old French abus (14c.), from Latin abusus (see abuse (v.)). Earlier in Middle English was abusion “wicked act or practice, shameful thing, violation of decency” (early 14c.), “an insult” (mid-14c.).


  1. To use wrongly or improperly; misuse.
  2. To hurt or injure physically by maltreatment.
  3. To force sexual activity on; rape or molest.
  4. To assail with contemptuous, coarse, or insulting words; revile.


  1. Improper use or handling, as of a drug; misuse.
  2. Physical maltreatment, as of a spouse or child.
  3. The forcing of unwanted sexual activity by one person on another.
  4. Sexual activity that is deemed improper or harmful, as between an adult and a minor or with a person of diminished mental capacity.
  5. Insulting or coarse language.

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