1. Improper treatment or use; application to a wrong or bad purpose; misuse; as, an abuse of our natural powers; an abuse of civil rights, or of privileges or advantages; an abuse of language. "Liberty may be endangered by the abuses of liberty, as well as by the abuses of power." (Madison)

2. Physical ill treatment; injury. "Rejoice . . . at the abuse of Falstaff."

3. A corrupt practice or custom; offense; crime; fault; as, the abuses in the civil service. "Abuse after disappeared without a struggle." (Macaulay)

4. Vituperative words; coarse, insulting speech; abusive language; virulent condemnation; reviling. "The two parties, after exchanging a good deal of abuse, came to blows." (Macaulay)

5. Violation; rape; as, abuse of a female child. "Or is it some abuse, and no such thing?" (Shak) Abuse of distress, a wrongful using of an animal or chattel distrained, by the distrainer.

Synonyms: Invective, contumely, reproach, scurrility, insult, opprobrium.

Abuse, Invective. Abuse is generally prompted by anger, and vented in harsh and unseemly words. It is more personal and coarse than invective. Abuse generally takes place in private quarrels; invective in writing or public discussions. Invective may be conveyed in refined language and dictated by indignation against what is blameworthy.

Origin: F. Abus, L. Abusus, fr. Abuti. See Abuse.

(01 Mar 1998)

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