abuse Definition

  • 1the improper use of something, often to the detriment of the user
  • 2cruel or violent treatment of a person or animal
  • 3insulting language used to belittle or hurt someone

Using abuse: Examples

Take a moment to familiarize yourself with how "abuse" can be used in various situations through the following examples!

  • Example

    Drug abuse can lead to serious health problems.

  • Example

    She suffered years of physical and emotional abuse at the hands of her husband.

  • Example

    He hurled abuse at the referee for making a bad call.

  • Example

    The company was accused of abusing its power to dominate the market.

abuse Synonyms and Antonyms

Idioms Using abuse

  • to insult or criticize someone harshly


    He gave the customer service representative abuse over the phone.

  • to endure insults or mistreatment without responding in kind


    She has a lot of patience and can take abuse from difficult customers.

  • the misuse of authority or influence for personal gain or to harm others


    The politician was accused of corruption and abuse of power.

Phrases with abuse

  • physical, sexual, or emotional mistreatment or neglect of a child


    The organization works to prevent child abuse and protect children from harm.

  • the excessive use of drugs or alcohol, often leading to addiction and negative consequences


    The rehab center provides treatment for individuals struggling with substance abuse.

  • verbal abuse

    the use of words to hurt or manipulate someone, often through insults, threats, or humiliation


    She endured years of verbal abuse from her boss before quitting her job.

Origins of abuse

from Middle English 'abusen', from Old French 'abuser', from Latin 'abuti', meaning 'to misuse'


Summary: abuse in Brief

The term 'abuse' [əˈbjuːs] refers to the improper use of something, cruel or violent treatment of a person or animal, or insulting language used to belittle or hurt someone. It spans contexts from drug abuse to verbal abuse, exemplified by 'Drug abuse can lead to serious health problems.' 'Abuse' extends into phrases like 'child abuse,' and idioms like 'give someone abuse,' denoting harsh criticism, and 'abuse of power,' implying the misuse of authority.

How do native speakers use this expression?