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Etymology 1[edit]

PIE word

The adjective is derived from Late Middle English abiect, abject (expelled, outcast, rejected, wretched, adjective) [and other forms],[1] from Middle French abject (worthy of utmost contempt or disgust, despicable, vile; of a person: brought low, cast down; of low social position) (modern French abject, abjet (obsolete)), and from its etymon Latin abiectus (abandoned; cast or thrown aside; dejected, downcast; ordinary, undistinguished, unimportant; (by extension) base, sordid; despicable, vile; humble, low; subservient), an adjective use of the perfect passive participle of abiciō (to discard, throw away or down; to cast or push away or aside; to abandon, give up; to belittle, degrade, humble; to lower, reduce; to overthrow, vanquish; to undervalue; to waste), from ab- (prefix meaning ‘away; away from; from’) + iaciō (to cast, hurl, throw, throw away) (ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *(H)yeh₁- (to throw)).[2][3]

The noun is derived from the adjective.[2]



abject (comparative abjecter or more abject, superlative abjectest or most abject)

  1. Existing in or sunk to a low condition, position, or state; contemptible, despicable, miserable. [from early 15th c.]
    Synonyms: degraded, (archaic) demiss, ignoble, mean, vile, wretched, worthless
    Antonym: unabject
  2. (by extension)
    1. (chiefly with a negative connotation) Complete; downright; utter.
      Synonyms: out-and-out, unmitigated; see also Thesaurus:total
      abject failure   abject nonsense   abject terror
    2. (rare) Lower than nearby areas; low-lying.
  3. Of a person: cast down in hope or spirit; showing utter helplessness, hopelessness, or resignation; also, grovelling; ingratiating; servile. [from mid 14th c.]
    Synonyms: beggarly, cringing, slavish
    Antonym: unabject
Derived terms[edit]
Related terms[edit]
The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.


abject (plural abjects)

  1. A person in the lowest and most despicable condition; an oppressed person; an outcast; also, such people as a class. [from early 16th c.]
    Synonyms: (rare) heanling, wretch

Etymology 2[edit]

From Late Middle English abjecten (to cast out, expel) [and other forms],[4] from abiect, abject (adjective) (see etymology 1).[5]

Sense 3 (“of a fungus: to give off (spores or sporidia)”) is modelled after German abschleudern (to give off forcefully).[5]



abject (third-person singular simple present abjects, present participle abjecting, simple past and past participle abjected) (transitive, chiefly archaic)

  1. To cast off or out (someone or something); to reject, especially as contemptible or inferior. [from 15th c.]
  2. To cast down (someone or something); to abase; to debase; to degrade; to lower; also, to forcibly impose obedience or servitude upon (someone); to subjugate. [from 15th c.]
  3. (mycology) Of a fungus: to (forcibly) give off (spores or sporidia).
Derived terms[edit]


  1. ^ abject, ppl.”, in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2007.
  2. 2.0 2.1 abject, adj. and n.”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, December 2021
  3. ^ abject, adj.”, in Lexico, Dictionary.com; Oxford University Press, 2019–2022.
  4. ^ abjecten, v.”, in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2007.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Compare “abject, v.”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, December 2021.

Further reading[edit]

  • Philip Babcock Gove (editor), Webster's Third International Dictionary of the English Language, Unabridged (G. & C. Merriam Co., 1976 [1909], →ISBN), page 4
  • Elliott K. Dobbie, C. William Dunmore, Robert K. Barnhart, et al. (editors), Chambers Dictionary of Etymology (Chambers Harrap Publishers Ltd, 2004 [1998], →ISBN), page 3
  • Lesley Brown, editor-in-chief; William R. Trumble and Angus Stevenson, editors (2002), “abject”, in The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary on Historical Principles, 5th edition, Oxford; New York, N.Y.: Oxford University Press, →ISBN, page 5.



Borrowed from French abject, from Latin abiectus.



abject (comparative abjecter, superlative abjectst)

  1. reprehensible, despicable, abject
    Het is teleologisch, infaam en het is abject.
    It is teleological, scandalous and it is reprehensible.


Inflection of abject
uninflected abject
inflected abjecte
comparative abjecter
positive comparative superlative
predicative/adverbial abject abjecter het abjectst
het abjectste
indefinite m./f. sing. abjecte abjectere abjectste
n. sing. abject abjecter abjectste
plural abjecte abjectere abjectste
definite abjecte abjectere abjectste
partitive abjects abjecters

Derived terms[edit]



From Latin abiectus.



abject (feminine abjecte, masculine plural abjects, feminine plural abjectes)

  1. (literary) Worthy of utmost contempt or disgust; vile; despicable
  2. (literary, obsolete) of the lowest social position

Usage notes[edit]

  • Abject lacks the idea of groveling, of moral degradation over time that is present in the English word.

Derived terms[edit]

Related terms[edit]


  • German: abjekt
  • Norwegian Bokmål: abjekt
  • Romanian: abject

Further reading[edit]



From French abject, from Latin abiectus.


abject m or n (feminine singular abjectă, masculine plural abjecți, feminine and neuter plural abjecte)

  1. abject