If you abuse someone, it means you are hurting that person, mentally, emotionally, or physically. If someone else is harming you, you are yourself suffering from abuse.

The word abuse is made up of two parts — "use," which means to employ, and ab-, a Latin prefix meaning "away" — and as a whole comes from the Latin abūsus, meaning "misuse," or "use wrongly." It began as a verb and became a noun in the mid-15th century. Abuse also refers to anything that is employed improperly or to excess, such as the abuse of alcohol or drugs.

Definitions of abuse
  1. noun
    cruel or inhumane treatment
    synonyms: ill-treatment, ill-usage, maltreatment
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    child abuse
    the physical or emotional or sexual mistreatment of children
    child neglect
    failure of caretakers to provide adequate emotional and physical care for a child
    the act of persecuting (especially on the basis of race or religion)
    cruelty, inhuman treatment
    a cruel act; a deliberate infliction of pain and suffering
    the act of piercing with a sharpened stake as a form of punishment or torture
    oppression, subjugation
    the act of subjugating by cruelty
    organized persecution of an ethnic group (especially Jews)
    handing over prisoners to countries where torture is allowed
    torture, torturing
    the deliberate, systematic, or wanton infliction of physical or mental suffering by one or more persons in an attempt to force another person to yield information or to make a confession or for any other reason
    atrocity, inhumanity
    an act of atrocious cruelty
    type of:
    the practice of treating (someone or something) badly
  2. noun
    a rude expression intended to offend or hurt
    synonyms: contumely, insult, revilement, vilification
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    low blow
    unscrupulous abuse
    billingsgate, scurrility
    foul-mouthed or obscene abuse
    cut, stinger
    a remark capable of wounding mentally
    invective, vitriol, vituperation
    abusive or venomous language used to express blame or censure or bitter deep-seated ill will
    type of:
    discourtesy, disrespect
    an expression of lack of respect
  3. verb
    treat badly
    “This boss abuses his workers”
    synonyms: ill-treat, ill-use, maltreat, mistreat, step
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    kick around
    treat badly; abuse
    type of:
    do by, handle, treat
    interact in a certain way
  4. verb
    use foul or abusive language towards
    “The actress abused the policeman who gave her a parking ticket”
    synonyms: blackguard, clapperclaw, shout
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    abuse with coarse language
    rail, revile, vilify, vituperate
    spread negative information about
    heap obscenities upon
    type of:
    assail, assault, attack, lash out, round, snipe
    attack in speech or writing
  5. noun
    improper or excessive use
    “alcohol abuse
    “the abuse of public funds”
    synonyms: misuse
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    drug abuse, habit, substance abuse
    excessive use of drugs
    alcohol abuse, alcoholic abuse, alcoholism abuse
    excessive use of alcohol and alcoholic drinks
    type of:
    employment, exercise, usage, use, utilisation, utilization
    the act of using
  6. verb
    use wrongly or improperly or excessively
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    type of:
    expend, use
    use up or consume fully
  7. verb
    change the inherent purpose or function of something
    “Don't abuse the system”
    synonyms: misuse, pervert
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    violate or abuse
    take in vain
    use a name, such as God, without proper respect
    type of:
    expend, use
    use up or consume fully
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