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First appeared 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.][1]
  2. Improper or incorrect use of language. [First attested in the mid 20th century.][1]
    A stickler for the rules of grammar, Mrs. Walker cringes when she encounters any abusage by the students in her freshman English class.


  1. 1.0 1.1 “abusage” 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, page 10.