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Abuse vs Misuse vs Mistreat vs Maltreat vs Ill-treat vs Outrage

Abuse, misuse, mistreat, maltreat, ill-treat and outrage all denote to use or treat a person or thing improperly or wrongfully.

Abuse and misuse are capable of wider use than the others, for they do not invariably imply either deliberateness or wantonness.

  • I can’t abuse your generosity to that extent. You’re doing more than enough for me already.
  • It turns a man’s stomach to hear the Scripture misused in that way.
    George Eliot

Abuse, however, commonly suggests perversion of the ends for which something was intended.

  • The constitution leaves them [the states] this right in the confidence that they will not abuse it.
    John Marshall

Sometimes it implies excess in use that injures or impairs.

  • abuse one’s strength

Misuse, by contrast with abuse, emphasizes the actual mistreatment or misapplication rather than its results.

  • The intent of this regulation is highly commendable, namely to keep the Indians from being misused.

Mistreat, maltreat, and illtreat usually imply a fault or an evil motive in the agent, such as meanness, culpable ignorance, or spitefulness.

  • Many more patients die from being mistreated for consumption than from consumption itself.
  • The meter, though a well-known English critic has maltreated it of late, is a very fine one.
  • have small compunction in ill-treating animals, because they have no souls

Outrage implies abuse so violent or extreme as to exceed all bounds.

  • an act that outraged nature and produced the inevitable tragedy of the play