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Etymology 1[edit]


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

  1. (obsolete) Rejected; cast aside. [Attested from around (1350 to 1470) until the early 17th century.][2]
  2. Sunk to or existing in a low condition, state, or position. [First attested from around (1350 to 1470).][2]
  3. Cast down in spirit or hope; degraded; servile; grovelling; despicable; lacking courage; offered in a humble and often ingratiating spirit. [First attested from around (1350 to 1470).][2]
    • (Can we date this quote?), Joseph Addison, Whig Examiner:
      Base and abject flatterers.
    • 1848, Thomas Babington Macaulay, The History of England from the Accession of James the Second:
      An abject liar.
    • (Can we date this quote?), Shakespeare, Taming of the Shrew, I-ii:
      And banish hence these abject, lowly dreams.
    • 1931, Faulkner, Sanctuary, ii:
      He sat obediently with that tentative and abject eagerness of a man who has but one pleasure left and whom the world can reach only through one sense, for he was both blind and deaf.
  4. Showing utter hopelessness, helplessness; showing resignation; wretched. [First attested from around (1350 to 1470).][2]
Usage notes[edit]
  • Nouns to which "abject" is often applied: poverty, fear, terror, submission, misery, failure, state, condition, apology, humility, servitude, manner, coward.
Related terms[edit]
The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout#Translations.


abject (plural abjects)

  1. A person in the lowest and most despicable condition; a castaway; outcast. [First attested from the late 15th century.][2]
    • (Can we date this quote?), Isaac Taylor, (Please provide the book title or journal name):
      Shall these abjects, these victims, these outcasts, know any thing of pleasure?
    • circa 1591-1594, Shakespeare, Richard III, Act I, Scene I:
      We are the queen's abjects, and must obey.

Etymology 2[edit]

From Middle English abjecten, derived from the adjective form.[3]


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

  1. (transitive, obsolete) To cast off or out; to reject. [Attested from around (1350 to 1470) until the late 17th century.][2]
    • 2001, Jana Evans Braziel, Kathleen LeBesco (editors), Bodies out of bounds: fatness and transgression, page 141:
      Rather than abjecting her own fat body, the Ipecac-taking fat girl is abjecting diet culture.
  2. (transitive, obsolete) To cast down; hence, to abase; to degrade; to lower; to debase. [Attested from around (1350 to 1470) until the late 17th century.][2]
    (Can we find and add a quotation of John Donne to this entry?)
Related terms[edit]


  1. ^ Elliott K. Dobbie, C. William Dunmore, Robert K. Barnhart, et al. (editors), Chambers Dictionary of Etymology (Chambers Harrap Publishers Ltd, 2004 [1998], ISBN 0550142304), page 3
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 “abject” in Lesley Brown, editor-in-chief; William R. Trumble and Angus Stevenson, editors, The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary on Historical Principles, 5th edition, Oxford; New York, N.Y.: Oxford University Press, 2002, ISBN 978-0-19-860457-0, page 5.
  3. ^ Philip Babcock Gove (editor), Webster's Third International Dictionary of the English Language, Unabridged (G. & C. Merriam Co., 1976 [1909], ISBN 0-87779-101-5), page 4




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




abject (feminine singular 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]

Further reading[edit]