Etymology: Middle English, from Middle French abus, from Latin abusus, from abuti to consume, from ab- + uti to use
Date: 15th century
1. a corrupt practice or custom
2. improper or excessive use or treatment ; misuse <drug abuse> <abuse of tranquilizers> 3. obsolete a deceitful act ; deception 4. language that condemns or vilifies usually unjustly, intemperately, and angrily 5. physical maltreatment Synonyms: abuse, vituperation, invective, obloquy, billingsgate mean vehemently expressed condemnation or disapproval. abuse the most general term, usually implies the anger of the speaker and stresses the harshness of the language <scathing verbal abuse>. vituperation implies fluent and sustained abuse <a torrent of vituperation>. invective implies a comparable vehemence but suggests greater verbal and rhetorical skill and may apply to a public denunciation <blistering political invective>. obloquy suggests defamation and consequent shame and disgrace <subjected to obloquy and derision>. billingsgate implies practiced fluency and variety of profane or obscene abuse <directed a stream of billingsgate at the cabdriver>. II. transitive verb (abused; abusing) Date: 15th century 1. a. to put to a wrong or improper use <abuse a privilege> b. to use excessively <abuse alcohol>; also to use without medical justification <abuseing painkillers> 2. obsolete deceive 3. to use so as to injure or damage ; maltreat 4. to attack in words ; revile • abusable adjective • abuser noun
New Collegiate Dictionary. 2001.