from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Characterized by improper or wrongful use: abusive utilization of public funds.
  • adj. Using or containing insulting or coarse language: finally reprimanded the abusive colleague.
  • adj. Causing physical injury to another: abusive punishment.
  • adj. Relating to or practicing sexual abuse.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Being physically injurious; characterized by repeated violence.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Wrongly used; perverted; misapplied.
  • adj. Given to misusing; also, full of abuses.
  • adj. Practicing abuse; prone to ill treat by coarse, insulting words or by other ill usage
  • adj. Containing abuse, or serving as the instrument of abuse; vituperative; reproachful; scurrilous.
  • adj. Tending to deceive; fraudulent; cheating.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Practising abuse; using harsh words or ill treatment: as, an abusive author; an abusive fellow. Characterized by or containing abuse; marked by contumely or ill use; harsh; ill-natured; injurious.
  • Marked by or full of abuses; corrupt: as, an abusive exercise of power.
  • Misleading, or tending to mislead; employed by misuse; improper.
  • Synonyms and Insolent, insultiug, offensive, scurrilous, ribald, reproachful, opprobrious, reviling.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. expressing offensive reproach
  • adj. characterized by physical or psychological maltreatment


Sorry, no etymologies found.


  • Earlier this year, temporary workers at a Pennsylvania plant packing Hershey products staged a mass walkout over what they described as abusive working conditions.

    The New Blue Collar: Temporary Work, Lasting Poverty And The American Warehouse

  • Of the $4 trillion in alleged deficit reduction over 10 years, about half would be from tax increases, mostly on what he called "abusive tax shelters and tax havens" and families "sufficiently fortunate to be earning a million dollars a year."

    Conrad Wants $2 Trillion

  • South Korea banned short selling, following Taiwan's move late Monday to limit short-selling volume, while Hong Kong regulators said they plan more aggressive measures against what they called abusive short-selling.

    Regional Indexes End Lower,

  • An Oregon woman has sued the Recording Industry Assocation of America in response to what she calls abusive tactics by the RIAA, including threats to "interrogate" the woman's ten-year-old daughter.

    Recording Industry Going Off the Deep End?

  • There has been what I call abusive language on both sides.

    CNN Transcript Jun 8, 2007

  • New York gossip columnist Lloyd Grove reports that Olbermann now says he shouldn't have replied to what he called abusive and hateful e-mails.

    CNN Transcript Jun 18, 2006

  • Plus, women who fled what they call abusive arranged marriages in his tightly-guarded community.

    CNN Transcript Sep 9, 2006

  • Agents will also examine more returns of high-income taxpayers in search of what they call abusive shelters, or transactions with no real economic purpose other than dodging taxes.

    November 2005

  • Rupert Murdoch, 80, the chairman of the News Corporation and James Murdoch's father, in what they described as their abusive experiences at the hands of tabloids owned by the News Corporation, including The News of the World and The Sun.

    NYT > Home Page

  • "I needed to know that I was not alone," said Snyder, who was exiting what she described as an abusive relationship when she posted her request. rss feed


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