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1620s, "a leading away," from Latin abductionem (nominative abductio), noun of action from past participle stem of abducere "to lead away, take away" (often by force), from ab- "away" (see ab-) + ducere "to lead" (see duke (n.)). The illegal activity so called from 1768; before that the word also was a term in surgery and logic. In the Mercian hymns, Latin abductione is glossed by Old English wiðlaednisse.