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[uh-ban-duh n] /əˈbæn dən/
verb (used with object)
to leave completely and finally; forsake utterly; desert:
to abandon one's farm; to abandon a child; to abandon a sinking ship.
to give up; discontinue; withdraw from:
to abandon a research project; to abandon hopes for a stage career.
to give up the control of:
to abandon a city to an enemy army.
to yield (oneself) without restraint or moderation; give (oneself) over to natural impulses, usually without self-control:
to abandon oneself to grief.
Law. to cast away, leave, or desert, as property or a child.
Insurance. to relinquish (insured property) to the underwriter in case of partial loss, thus enabling the insured to claim a total loss.
Obsolete. to banish.
Origin of abandon1
1325-75; Middle English abando(u)nen < Middle French abandoner for Old French (mettre) a bandon (put) under (someone's) jurisdiction, equivalent to a at, to (< Latin ad; see ad-) + bandon < Germanic *band; see bond1
Related forms
abandonable, adjective
abandoner, noun
abandonment, noun
nonabandonment, noun
unabandoning, adjective
1. See desert2 . 2. Abandon, relinquish, renounce mean to give up all concern in something. Abandon means to give up or discontinue any further interest in something because of discouragement, weariness, distaste, or the like: to abandon one's efforts. Relinquish implies being or feeling compelled to give up something one would prefer to keep: to relinquish a long-cherished desire. Renounce implies making (and perhaps formally stating) a voluntary decision to give something up: to renounce worldly pleasures. 3. yield, surrender, resign, waive, abdicate.
1. keep. 2. continue; begin, start. 3. retain. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for abandoning
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • He had been bothered by no fine qualms about abandoning herself.

    Dust Mr. and Mrs. Haldeman-Julius
  • So she made no objection to his abandoning his desk in the house of Dunbar, Dunbar, and Balderby.

    Henry Dunbar M. E. Braddon
  • She loved a man—to her the noblest, most god-like creature of his kind,—and she was happy in abandoning herself to him.

    The Last Spike Cy Warman
  • They had no thought of abandoning any of their pursuits or pleasures, be they never so deplorable.

    The Law-Breakers Ridgwell Cullum
  • Lefin chose to remedy that by abandoning entirely the tradition, and by writing exactly as the people spoke.

British Dictionary definitions for abandoning


verb (transitive)
to forsake completely; desert; leave behind: to abandon a baby, drivers had to abandon their cars
abandon ship, the order given to the crew of a ship that is about to sink to take to the lifeboats
to give up completely: to abandon a habit, to abandon hope
to yield control of or concern in; relinquish: to abandon office
to give up (something begun) before completion: to abandon a job, the game was abandoned
to surrender (oneself) to emotion without restraint
to give (insured property that has suffered partial loss or damage) to the insurers in order that a claim for a total loss may be made
freedom from inhibitions, restraint, concern, or worry: she danced with abandon
Derived Forms
abandonment, noun
Word Origin
C14: abandounen (vb), from Old French, from a bandon under one's control, in one's power, from a at, to + bandon control, power
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin and History for abandoning



late 14c., "to give up, surrender (oneself or something), give over utterly; to yield (oneself) utterly (to religion, fornication, etc.)," from Old French abandoner (12c.), from adverbial phrase à bandon "at will, at discretion," from à "at, to" (see ad-) + bandon "power, jurisdiction," from Latin bannum, "proclamation," from a Frankish word related to ban (v.).

Mettre sa forest à bandon was a feudal law phrase in the 13th cent. = mettre sa forêt à permission, i.e. to open it freely to any one for pasture or to cut wood in; hence the later sense of giving up one's rights for a time, letting go, leaving, abandoning. [Auguste Brachet, "An Etymological Dictionary of the French Language," transl. G.W. Kitchin, Oxford, 1878]
Etymologically, the word carries a sense of "put someone under someone else's control." Meaning "to give up absolutely" is from late 14c. Related: Abandoned; abandoning.


"a letting loose, surrender to natural impulses," 1822, from a sense in French abandon (see abandon (v.). Borrowed earlier (c.1400) from French in a sense "(someone's) control;" and cf. Middle English adverbial phrase at abandon, i.e. "recklessly," attested from late 14c.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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