Definition of abusive in US English:



  • 1Extremely offensive and insulting.

    ‘he became quite abusive and swore at her’
    ‘abusive language’
    • ‘Mrs Walsh said the four men arrested for abusive language hurled insults at the police outside the pub after staff helped officers to clear the bar.’
    • ‘The order prevents him from harming or threatening anyone in the Mirfield area, using abusive or racist language or taking cars without consent.’
    • ‘It should be borne in mind that words or behaviour may be annoying or rude without being necessarily abusive or insulting.’
    • ‘He was abusive and insulting to a policeman and as he was placed in a police vehicle, he kicked one officer in the chest.’
    • ‘Individuals should not be allowed to run amok insulting and using abusive language against one another.’
    • ‘He could also be prosecuted for behaving anti-socially or using insulting or abusive, including homophobic, language.’
    • ‘Residents complained the young people were using foul language, being abusive and playing ball games in the street into the early hours of the morning.’
    • ‘They say they have to put up with increased noise, foul and abusive language and a complete loss of privacy since the work was completed earlier this year.’
    • ‘He further pleaded to using threatening, abusive and insulting behaviour and with being intoxicated on the same date.’
    • ‘He also swore and used abusive language to the manager of Cullompton town hall market on the same day.’
    • ‘He must also attend school and not use abusive, threatening, insulting or offensive language in public.’
    • ‘Nobody who sees this film can point a finger at me for portraying violence, abusive language, or offensive scenes.’
    • ‘Magistrates heard he was extremely abusive to the police and was warned.’
    • ‘It is therefore of concern he admits to consuming a large amount of alcohol and to being extremely abusive to probation staff on release.’
    • ‘The other victim came out and both girls shouted at them using extremely abusive language.’
    • ‘Violence, offensive sexual gestures or behaviour, or threatening or abusive language could get patients barred.’
    • ‘She breached the order three times by swearing, screaming and using abusive language after a road accident.’
    • ‘When you start to get abusive and insulting you have already lost the argument.’
    • ‘Their antics included shouting, abusive language and touching the bottom of a young air hostess, Newcastle Crown Court heard.’
    • ‘When chased by the teachers they just run through residents' gardens and if the residents complain they get the same foul and abusive language.’
    insulting, rude, vulgar, offensive, disparaging, belittling, derogatory, disrespectful, denigratory, uncomplimentary, pejorative, vituperative
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  • 2Engaging in or characterized by habitual violence and cruelty.

    ‘abusive parents’
    ‘an abusive relationship’
    • ‘I think there is a similarity to the attitude of many abused children who blame themselves for the abusive actions of their parents.’
    • ‘When women pluck up the courage to leave a violent or abusive relationship, they often find their abuser turns to the law, Tagg explained.’
    • ‘For decades the prevailing theories tell us that the roots of violence lie in deprived environments and abusive parents.’
    • ‘If you are abused as a child this definitely doesn't mean that you are going to end up in a violent or abusive relationship yourself.’
    • ‘The gratuitous gossip included claims of domestic violence, adultery and abusive relationships.’
    • ‘Her e-mails revealed that she's been in an emotionally abusive relationship for about a year.’
    • ‘Leaving an abusive relationship may be punished in a number of ways.’
    • ‘How do I know if I am in an unhealthy, abusive, or even violent relationship?’
    • ‘She struggled through divorce, life as a single parent, abusive relationships and another rocky marriage.’
    • ‘A friend of mine was a domestic violence crisis line counselor and wound up in an abusive relationship.’
    • ‘A victim's decision to remain in an abusive relationship may be positively reinforced in several ways.’
    • ‘One of the main drives behind this campaign is to get proper services in place for women who want to escape from abusive relationships.’
    • ‘Not that he was abusive, unkind or violent, he just expected more of her than she often felt she had to give.’
    • ‘Those who attended including women who had been in abusive relationships and sought help through the Women Awake meetings.’
    • ‘The refuge provides a haven for people fleeing violent or abusive relationships.’
    • ‘‘The song is about women putting up with abusive relationships and not being able to leave,’ he says.’
    • ‘Women's Aid did not know why more women in violent and abusive relationships were seeking their help.’
    • ‘I was in a particularly nasty marriage, a violent and abusive relationship that started the day after the wedding.’
    • ‘When partners become abusive, violence becomes regular; sometimes family members kill each other.’
    • ‘There is strong evidence for a link between abusive behaviour and violence in the family of origin.’
    cruel, brutal, savage, inhuman, barbaric, barbarous, brutish, vicious, sadistic
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  • 3Involving injustice or illegality.

    ‘the abusive and predatory practices of businesses’
    • ‘When pickers went out on strike, abusive practices of foremen were usually a main source of complaint.’
    • ‘The previous day, an Athens court ruled that the strike was illegal and abusive.’
    • ‘United Brands produced bananas, and was accused of a variety of abusive practices which were said to infringe Article 86.’
    • ‘Essentially, the challenge is to catch abusive practices without catching harmless practices, to boot.’
    • ‘Society increasingly perceives individuals to be passive victims of abusive and predatory corporations.’
    • ‘In fact, the NRA lent support to some of the most abusive criminal justice practices in effect today.’
    • ‘Not that the oppressive, undemocratic, abusive and illegal proposals are to be binned.’
    • ‘Democracy will struggle to take root if abusive police practices and corrupt judges flourish.’
    • ‘If anything, the police were trying to cover up their own abusive practices.’
    • ‘It was 1875 when the child labour laws cracked down on this abusive practice.’
    • ‘What they are not willing to do, however, is take part in what they view as an illegal and abusive occupation.’
    • ‘The latest move to establish regional offices has created fears of a possible return to repressive and abusive practices.’