Definition - Transitive Verb
1  : to put to a use other than the one intended: as
a  : to put to a bad or unfair use <abusing the powers of office>
b  : to put to improper or excessive use <~ narcotics>
2 a  : to inflict physical or emotional mistreatment or injury on (as one's child) purposely or through negligence or neglect and often on a regular basis
b  : to engage in sexual activity with (a child under an age specified by statute)
3  : to attack harshly with words <~ a police officer> <~ a debtor>

Definition - Noun
1  : improper, unfair, or excessive use <~ of authority> <drug ~>
2 a  : the infliction of physical or emotional injury
: the crime of inflicting such injury
see also battered child syndrome battered woman's syndrome
compare cruelty neglect
b  : See also sexual abuse
3  : a verbal attack (as on a police officer in the performance of his or her duty)
: the crime of making such an attack

Pronunciation Key

  • \&\ as a and u in a b ut
  • \[^&]\ as e in kitt en
  • \&r\ as ur and er in f urther
  • \a\ as a inash
  • \A\ as a in ace
  • \?\ as o in m op
  • \au\ as ou in ou t
  • \ch\ as ch in ch in
  • \e\ as e in bet
  • \E\ as ea in easy
  • \g\ as g in go
  • \i\ as i in hit
  • \I\ as i in ice
  • \j\ as j in job
  • \[ng]\ as ng in sing
  • \O\ as o in go
  • \o\ as aw in law
  • \oi\ as oy in boy
  • \th\ as th in thin
  • \[th_]\ as thin the
  • \?\ as oo in loot
  • \u\ as oo in foot
  • \y\ as y in yet
  • \zh\ as si in vision

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Based on Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of Law ©2001.
Merriam-Webster, Incorporated
Published under license with Merriam-Webster, Incorporated.