Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary

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3 entries found for abuse.
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Main Entry: 1abuse
Pronunciation: &-'byüs
Function: noun
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>.