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Etymology 1[edit]

mis- +‎ use (noun)


  • IPA(key): /mɪsˈjuːs/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -uːs


misuse (countable and uncountable, plural misuses)

  1. An incorrect, improper or unlawful use of something.
    • 2012 June 4, Lewis Smith, “Queen’s English Society says enuf is enough, innit?: Society formed 40 years ago to protect language against poor spelling and grammar closes because too few people care”, in The Guardian[1], London, archived from the original on 10 March 2016:
      The Queen may be celebrating her jubilee but the Queen's English Society, which has railed against the misuse and deterioration of the English language, is to fold.

Etymology 2[edit]

mis- +‎ use (verb)



misuse (third-person singular simple present misuses, present participle misusing, simple past and past participle misused or (obsolete) misust)

  1. (transitive) To use (something) incorrectly. [from 14th c.]
  2. (transitive) To abuse or mistreat (something or someone). [from 14th c.]
  3. (transitive) To rape (a woman); later more generally, to sexually abuse (someone). [from 14th c.]
    • 2013, Philipp Meyer, The Son, Simon & Schuster, published 2014, page 326:
      “If that is true she would be the first case I have ever heard of, as most female captives are misused by the entire tribe.”
  4. (obsolete, transitive) To abuse verbally, to insult. [16th–17th c.]
    • 1624, Democritus Junior [pseudonym; Robert Burton], The Anatomy of Melancholy: [], 2nd edition, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Printed by John Lichfield and James Short, for Henry Cripps, →OCLC, partition II, section 3, member 7:
      Socrates was brought upon the stage by Aristophanes, and misused to his face: but he laughed, as if it concerned him not […].