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[uh-byoo-siv] /əˈbyu sɪv/
using, containing, or characterized by harshly or coarsely insulting language:
an abusive author; abusive remarks.
treating badly or injuriously; mistreating, especially physically:
his abusive handling of the horse.
wrongly used; corrupt:
an abusive exercise of power.
Origin of abusive
1575-85; < Late Latin abūsīvus. See abuse, -ive
Related forms
abusively, adverb
abusiveness, noun
nonabusive, adjective
nonabusively, adverb
nonabusiveness, noun
overabusive, adjective
overabusively, adverb
overabusiveness, noun
unabusive, adjective
unabusively, adverb
unabusiveness, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for abusive
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • They were not only plain but abusive, and he complained bitterly to Hamar.

    The Sorcery Club Elliott O'Donnell
  • Having been drinking heavily, he was in an abusive frame of mind.

    Brand Blotters William MacLeod Raine
  • But, strange to say, in spite of his being so abusive, his eyes wandered about uneasily.

    Virgin Soil Ivan S. Turgenev
  • I have really great respect for cranks, if they only are honest and not too abusive.

    Doctor Jones' Picnic S. E. Chapman
  • They are rather names of disease, for they express some element in excess, some dangerous and abusive exaggeration.

    Amiel's Journal Henri-Frdric Amiel
British Dictionary definitions for abusive


characterized by insulting or coarse language
characterized by maltreatment
incorrectly used; corrupt
Derived Forms
abusively, adverb
abusiveness, noun
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for abusive

1530s (implied in abusively), originally "improper," from Middle French abusif, from Latin abusivus, from abus-, past participle stem of abuti (see abuse (v.)). Meaning "full of abuse" is from 1580s. Abuseful was used 17c., and Shakespeare has abusious ("Taming of the Shrew," 1594). Related: Abusiveness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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