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abuse +‎ -age.

First appeared in Middle English, c. 1450–1475, meaning “sexual misconduct”[1] (cf. abuse (forcing of undesired sexual activity)), later in the 16th century as a general synonym of abuse, but fell into disuse after just a couple of centuries. The word re-emerged with a new grammar-specific sense after Eric Partridge published a book on grammar titled Usage and Abusage: A Guide to Good English (a pun on "use and abuse") in 1942.



abusage (countable and uncountable, plural abusages)

  1. (obsolete) Abuse. [Attested from the mid 16th century until the mid 17th century.][2]
  2. Improper or incorrect use of language. [First attested in the mid 20th century.][2]
    A stickler for the rules of grammar, Mrs. Walker cringes when she encounters any abusage by the students in her freshman English class.


  1. ^ abūsaǧe, n.”, in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2007.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Lesley Brown, editor-in-chief; William R. Trumble and Angus Stevenson, editors (2002), “abusage”, in The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary on Historical Principles, 5th edition, Oxford; New York, N.Y.: Oxford University Press, →ISBN, page 10.