1. To use wrongly or improperly; misuse: abuse alcohol; abuse a privilege.
2. To hurt or injure by maltreatment; ill-use.
3. To force sexual activity on; rape or molest.
4. To assail with contemptuous, coarse, or insulting words; revile.
5. Obsolete To deceive or trick.
1. Improper use or handling; misuse: abuse of authority; drug abuse.
2. Physical maltreatment: spousal abuse.
3. Sexual abuse.
4. An unjust or wrongful practice: a government that commits abuses against its citizens.
5. Insulting or coarse language: verbal abuse.
[Middle English abusen, from Old French abuser, from abus, improper use, from Latin absus, past participle of abt, to misuse : ab-, away; see ab-1 + t, to use.]
Synonyms: abuse, misuse, mistreat, ill-treat, maltreat These verbs mean to treat wrongfully or harmfully. Abuse applies to injurious or improper treatment: We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us (Aldo Leopold). Misuse stresses incorrect or unknowledgeable handling: How often misused words generate misleading thoughts (Herbert Spencer). Mistreat, ill-treat, and maltreat all share the sense of inflicting injury, often intentionally: I had seen many more patients die from being mistreated for consumption than from consumption itself (Earl of Lytton). The army had orders not to ill-treat the prisoners.When we misuse [a language other than our native language], we are in fact trying to reduce its element of foreignness. We let ourselves maltreat it as though it naturally belonged to us (Manchester Guardian Weekly).