Cambridge Dictionaries online Cambridge Dictionaries online

The most popular online dictionary and thesaurus for learners of English

English definition of “abuse”

See all translations

abuse

verb [T] uk   /əˈbjuːz/ us  

abuse verb [T] (USE WRONGLY)

to use something for the wrong purpose in a way that is harmful or morally wrong: She is continually abusing her position/authority by getting other people to do things for her. I never expected that he would abuse the trust I placed in him. to abuse alcohol
More examples

abuse verb [T] (TREAT CRUELLY)

to treat someone cruelly or violently: Several of the children had been sexually/physically/emotionally abused.

abuse verb [T] (SPEAK RUDELY)

to speak to someone rudely or cruelly: The crowd started abusing him after he failed to save a goal.
abuser
noun [C] uk   /əˈbjuː.zər/ us    /-zɚ/
a child abuser a drug/solvent abuser

abuse

noun uk   /əˈbjuːs/ us  

abuse noun (WRONG USE)

B2 [C or U] the use of something in a way that is harmful or morally wrong: an abuse (= wrong use) of privilege/power/someone's kindness Drug and alcohol abuse (= using these substances in a bad way) contributed to his early death.
More examples

abuse noun (CRUEL BEHAVIOUR)

B2 cruel, violent, or unfair treatment of someone: She claimed to have been a victim of child abuse . sexual/physical/mental abuse (= bad treatment)

abuse noun (RUDE SPEECH)

C2 [U] rude and offensive words said to another person: He had apparently experienced a lot of verbal abuse from his co-workers. He hurled (a stream/torrent of) abuse at her (= he said a lot of rude and offensive things to her). "Idiot!" is a term of abuse (= an insulting expression).
(Definition of abuse from the Cambridge Advanced Learners Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)
What is the pronunciation of abuse?
Add Cambridge dictionaries to your browser to your website

Definitions of “abuse” in other dictionaries

Word of the Day

past participle

the form of a verb, usually made by adding -ed, used in some grammatical structures such as the passive and the present perfect

Word of the Day

Euphemisms (Words used to Avoid Offending People)

by Kate Woodford,
March 04, 2015
​​​ We recently looked at the language that we use to describe lies and lying. One area of lying that we considered was ‘being slightly dishonest, or not speaking the complete truth’. One reason for not speaking the complete truth is to avoid saying something that might upset or offend people. Words and

Read More 

snapchat verb

March 02, 2015
to send someone a message using the photomessaging application Snapchat We used to have a thing until he got a girlfriend. now

Read More