to leave completely and finally; forsake utterly; desert:
to abandon one’s farm; to abandon a child; to abandon a sinking ship.
to give up; discontinue; withdraw from:
to abandon a research project; to abandon hopes for a stage career.
to give up the control of:
to abandon a city to an enemy army.
to yield (oneself) without restraint or moderation; give (oneself) over to natural impulses, usually without self-control:
to abandon oneself to grief.
law. to cast away, leave, or desert, as property or a child.
insurance. to relinquish (insured property) to the underwriter in case of partial loss, thus enabling the insured to claim a total loss.
obsolete. to banish.
contemporary examples

is lost an admission of abrams fear of flying or perhaps about his more general phobias of abandonment and isolation?
film-inspired c-cktails: super 8 brody brown june 9, 2011

but nothing behooves a believer like condemnation—persecution is the mark of success, abandonment the measure of purity.
the jihadis’ american pipeline patrick symmes october 2, 2011

harry and peter are bound by the loss of their fathers and their abandonment issues.
marc webb takes us inside ‘the amazing spider-man 2’ and discusses his rise to the a-list marlow stern march 14, 2014

from the novel cure: from abandonment to zestlessness: 751 books to cure what ails you by ella berthoud and susan elderkin.
how to cure your anxiety? read henry james’s ‘the portrait of a lady,’ of course. ella berthoud, susan elderkind september 25, 2013

vonnegut could be charming, but he was seldom kind; he frequently repaid loyalty with abandonment and betrayal.
kurt vonnegut biography reveals an unhappy and nasty writer wendy smith november 28, 2011

historical examples

the abandonment of that mission he would never cease to regret.
the personal life of david livingstone william garden blaikie

her act of abandonment was really an arrangement for settling her son permanently in life.
the secret agent joseph conrad

there is an ease, an abandonment in its exercise, that is positively beautiful, and can be understood only when felt.
the puddleford papers, h. h. riley

and how desolate was its abandonment, what a stream of silence and solitude it was!
the three cities trilogy, complete emile zola

a plantation will almost perish from the earth, as it were, by a few years of abandonment.
true bear stories joaquin miller

verb (transitive)
to forsake completely; desert; leave behind: to abandon a baby, drivers had to abandon their cars
abandon ship, the order given to the crew of a ship that is about to sink to take to the lifeboats
to give up completely: to abandon a habit, to abandon hope
to yield control of or concern in; relinquish: to abandon office
to give up (something begun) before completion: to abandon a job, the game was abandoned
to surrender (oneself) to emotion without restraint
to give (insured property that has suffered partial loss or damage) to the insurers in order that a claim for a total loss may be made
freedom from inhibitions, restraint, concern, or worry: she danced with abandon

1610s, from french abandonnement, from abandonner (see abandon (v.)).

late 14c., “to give up, surrender (oneself or something), give over utterly; to yield (oneself) utterly (to religion, fornication, etc.),” from old french abandoner (12c.), from adverbial phrase à bandon “at will, at discretion,” from à “at, to” (see ad-) + bandon “power, jurisdiction,” from latin bannum, “proclamation,” from a frankish word related to ban (v.).

mettre sa forest à bandon was a feudal law phrase in the 13th cent. = mettre sa forêt à permission, i.e. to open it freely to any one for pasture or to cut wood in; hence the later sense of giving up one’s rights for a time, letting go, leaving, abandoning. [auguste brachet, “an etymological dictionary of the french language,” transl. g.w. kitchin, oxford, 1878]

etymologically, the word carries a sense of “put someone under someone else’s control.” meaning “to give up absolutely” is from late 14c. related: abandoned; abandoning.


“a letting loose, surrender to natural impulses,” 1822, from a sense in french abandon (see abandon (v.). borrowed earlier (c.1400) from french in a sense “(someone’s) control;” and cf. middle english adverbial phrase at abandon, i.e. “recklessly,” attested from late 14c.

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