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to use wrongly or improperly; misuse:
to abuse one’s authority.
to treat in a harmful, injurious, or offensive way:
to abuse a horse; to abuse one’s eyesight.
to speak insultingly, harshly, and unjustly to or about; revile; malign.
to commit sexual assault upon.
Obsolete. to deceive or mislead.
wrong or improper use; misuse:
the abuse of privileges.
harshly or coarsely insulting language:
The officer heaped abuse on his men.
bad or improper treatment; maltreatment:
The child was subjected to cruel abuse.
a corrupt or improper practice or custom:
the abuses of a totalitarian regime.
rape or sexual assault.
Obsolete, .
abuse oneself, to masturbate.
Contemporary Examples

(Today state media reported that Wang has been indicted on charges of defection, abuse of power and bribe-taking).
High Speed Scandal: Ferrari Incident Rocks China Melinda Liu September 4, 2012

Studies have shown that serious mental illness correlates with higher rates of child neglect and abuse.
One Breakdown Can Mean Losing Your Kid Forever ProPublica May 29, 2014

She came up with a code word―“peace”―for her teacher if the abuse happened again, and she called the teacher and used the word.
Casandra Kennedy Recants Rape Charge Against Her Father, Freed After 9 Years Winston Ross April 9, 2012

But the abuse factor in Armstrong’s fatal actions remained a silent one to her family, as is common in cases like this one.
Why I Almost Killed Myself—And My Children Daleen Berry April 15, 2011

A home full of my own painful memories of abuse, my teen years spent trying to figure out a way to get out and never come back.
I Was Pregnant When He Hit Me. Here’s #WhyIStayed. Anonymous September 9, 2014

Historical Examples

abuse, cruelty, outrage, accumulated on the heads of the poor Aleuts.
Vikings of the Pacific Agnes C. Laut

Oh, Whizzer, you poor fellow, why do you let him abuse you so?
Chip, of the Flying U B. M. Bower

If the question were resolutely faced, the abuse could be stopped.
Rebuilding Britain Alfred Hopkinson

That would have been an abuse of our treaties, and unworthy of your character.
The Last of the Mohicans James Fenimore Cooper

Yf they had an Alexander to govern they shold be punished, and I could wish them not to abuse the lenitie of their prince.
Elizabethan and Jacobean Pamphlets Various

verb (transitive) (əˈbjuːz)
to use incorrectly or improperly; misuse
to maltreat, esp physically or sexually
to speak insultingly or cruelly to; revile
(reflexive) to masturbate
noun (əˈbjuːs)
improper, incorrect, or excessive use; misuse
maltreatment of a person; injury
insulting, contemptuous, or coarse speech
an evil, unjust, or corrupt practice
See child abuse
(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.).

abuse a·buse (ə-byōōz’)
v. a·bused, a·bus·ing, a·bus·es

To use wrongly or improperly; misuse.

To hurt or injure physically by maltreatment.

To assail with contemptuous, coarse, or insulting words; revile.

n. (ə-byōōs’)

Improper use or handling, as of a drug; misuse.

Physical maltreatment, as of a spouse or child.

Insulting or coarse language.

a·bus’er n.


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