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1. The process of using up or wearing out. Obs.

1539 CRANMER Col. ii. 22 Touch not, tast not, handell not: whych all peryeshe thorow the very abuse [WYCLIF vse. TINDALE & 1611 vsinge].

2. a. Wrong or improper use, misuse, misapplication, perversion. spec. The non-therapeutic or excessive use of a drug; the misuse of any substance, esp. for its stimulant effects. Cf. drug-abuse s.v. DRUG n.1 1b; solvent abuse s.v. SOLVENT n. 5.

For lessons on the topic of Abuse, follow this link.

1538 BALE Thre Lawes 709 These two wyll hym so vse Ichone in their abuse. 1602 WARNER Albion's England (1612) IX. lii. 236 Yet things, that of themselues be good, abuse brings out of square. 1756 C. LUCAS On Waters I. 29 I have observed the same from the abuse of Spa water. 1846 MILL Logic (1868) I. ii. §4. 29 Imitating him in this abuse of language. 1862 LD. BROUGHAM Brit. Const. i. 18 It would be a great abuse of terms to call the Venetian a Mixed Aristocracy. 1879 G. C. HARLAN Eyesight vi. 78 It [tendency to short sight] may sometimes originate in later life from abuse of the eyes. 1961 Drug Addiction (Rep. Interdepartmental Comm., Min. Health & Dept. of Health, Scotl.) 15 The abuse of stimulant drugs such as the amphetamines and phenmetrazine has led to some publicity and concern. 1969 R. R. LINGEMAN Drugs from A to Z p. vii, The fact that in recent years drug use, or more correctly abuse, has radically changed is..the raison d'être of this book. 1970 (title) Alcohol abuse. (Office of Health.) 1974 M. C. GERALD Pharmacol. vi. 124 Whereas..amphetamine-like drugs may be useful in the early stages of dieting, the development of tolerance and their abuse potential limit their long-term value as appetite-suppressants. 1984 Sunday Times 9 Dec. 3/6 This is a setback for the campaign against increasing heroin abuse among the young in all parts of the country.

b. Rhet. Improper use of words, catachresis.

1589 PUTTENHAM Eng. Poesie (1869) 190, Catachresis, or the Figure of abuse..if for lacke of naturall and proper terme or worde we take another, neither naturall nor proper and do vntruly applie it to the thing which we would seeme to expresse. a1716 SOUTH 12 Serm. (1744) II. 93 The acception of the word amongst the Greeks and Latines..is through abuse and degeneration.

3. A bad or improper usage (i.e. a use which has become chronic), a corrupt practice.

1486 CAXTON Curial 3 The abuses of the courte..ben suche that a man is neuer suffred tenhaunce hymself. 1550 CROWLEY Last Trumpet 615 Thou learned man, do not disdayne..Thy greate abuses to refrayne, And in thy callyng to go ryght. 1699 DR. TANNER in Pepys' Diary VI. 186 Some letters about the abuses of Christ's Hospital. a1745 SWIFT Adv. of Relig. Wks. 1824 VIII. 107 The nature of things is such, that, if abuses be not remedied, they will certainly increase. 1780 BURKE Sp. on Econ. Ref. Wks. III. 247 There is a time, when the hoary head of inveterate abuse will neither draw reverence, nor obtain protection. 1855 MACAULAY Hist. Eng. IV. 121 It seemed perfectly natural that he should defend abuses by which he profited.

4. Imposture, deceit; delusion. Obs.

1555 Fardle of Facions, Pref. 15 Some he [the deuell] reuersed into their former abuses and errours. 1602 SHAKES. Ham. IV. vii. 51 Or is it some abuse? Or no such thing? 1605 {emem} Macb. III. iv. 142 My strange and self-abuse Is the initiate feare, that wants hard vse. 1653 URQUHART Rabelais I. xlv, Do the false prophets teach you such abuses?

5. Injury, wrong, ill-usage. Obs.

1593 SHAKES. 3 Hen. VI, III. iii. 188 Did I let passe th' abuse done to my Neece? 1598 {emem} Merry W. V. iii. 8 My husband will not reioyce so much at the abuse of Falstaffe, as he will chafe at the Doctors marrying my daughter. 1682 LUTTRELL Brief Rel. (1857) I. 224 Lieutenant Colonel Quiney..offered an abuse to Sir John Lawrence by pulling him down off the hustings.

6. Violation, defilement (now only in self-abuse).

1580 SIDNEY Arc. II. (T.), Was it not enough for him to have deceived me, and through the deceit abused me, and after the abuse forsaken me? 1751 CHAMBERS Cycl. s.v. Abuse, Self-Abuse is a phrase used by some late writers for the crime of self-pollution.

7. Injurious speech, reviling, execration; abusive language

1559 Myrroure for Mag. i. 4 Blowen up the blast of all abuse. 1603 SHAKES. Meas. for M. V. i. 347 Harke how the villaine would close now, after his treasonable abuses. 1759 DILWORTH Life of Pope 77 Mr. Pope bore for a long time the gross abuses thrown out by his adversaries. 1780 HARRIS Philol. Enq. (1841) 534 For every past age, when present, has been the object of abuse. a1859 MACAULAY Hist. Eng. (1861) V. xxiv. 128 The two parties, after exchanging a good deal of abuse, came to blows.