a·buse (-byz) KEY
a·bused, a·bus·ing, a·bus·es
abuse oneself Vulgar
Middle English abusen, from Old French abuser, from abus, improper use, from Latin absus, past participle of abt, to misuse : ab-, away ; see ab-1 + t, to use
abuse, misuse, mistreat, ill-treat, maltreat
These verbs mean to treat wrongfully or harmfully. Abuse applies to injurious or improper treatment: "We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us" (Aldo Leopold). Misuse stresses incorrect or unknowledgeable handling: "How often misused words generate misleading thoughts" (Herbert Spencer). Mistreat, ill-treat, and maltreat all share the sense of inflicting injury, often intentionally: "I had seen many more patients die from being mistreated for consumption than from consumption itself" (Earl of Lytton). The army had orders not to ill-treat the prisoners. "When we misuse [a language other than our native language], we are in fact trying to reduce its element of foreignness. We let ourselves maltreat it as though it naturally belonged to us" (Manchester Guardian Weekly).