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The FindLaw Legal Dictionary -- free access to over 8260 definitions of legal terms. Search for a definition or browse our legal glossaries.



abuse vt

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]
abus·er n

[ə-byüs] n 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 : 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

Source: Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of Law ©1996. Merriam-Webster, Incorporated. Published under license with Merriam-Webster, Incorporated.

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