Did you know?

Click any word in a definition or example to find the entry for that word

abuse

 - definition
 
 
Close

What are red words?

90% of the time, speakers of English use just 7,500 words in speech and writing. These words appear in red, and are graded with stars. One-star words are frequent, two-star words are more frequent, and three-star words are the most frequent.

Close

Thesaurus

The thesaurus of synonyms and related words is fully integrated into the dictionary entries. Click on the T button in an entry to review the synonyms and related words for that meaning.

more
noun British English pronunciation: abuse /əˈbjuːs/ 
Word Forms
Close
singularabuse
pluralabuses
  1. 1
    [countable/uncountable] cruel, violent, or unfair treatment, especially of someone who does not have the power to prevent it

    The regime had been responsible for serious human rights abuses.

    abuse of:

    Physical abuse and neglect of children is too common.

    1. a.
      [uncountable] forced sexual activity with someone who cannot prevent it

      Several female students have made allegations of abuse against him.

  2. 2
    [countable/uncountable] the use of something in a bad, dishonest, or harmful way

    price-fixing agreements and other abuses by large corporations

    abuse of power/privilege/position:

    This is clearly an abuse of power.

    open to abuse (=capable of being abused):

    All polling methods are potentially open to abuse.

  3. 3
    [uncountable] angry offensive comments
    shout/scream/hurl abuse:

    Blake was alleged to have hurled racist abuse at a student.

Word of the Day

carob

a sweet brown powder that tastes like chocolate and is made from the seeds of a Mediterranean tree

Blog

A must for anyone with an interest in the changing face of language. The Macmillan Dictionary blog explores English as it is spoken around the world today.

global English and language change from our blog