improper usage or misuse or incivil behavior towards others

Abuse is the improper usage or treatment of a thing, often to unfairly or improperly gain benefit. Abuse can come in many forms, such as: physical or verbal maltreatment, injury, assault, violation, rape, unjust practices, crimes, or other types of aggression. To these descriptions, one can also add the Kantian notion of the wrongness of using another human being as means to an end rather than as ends in themselves. Some sources describe abuse as "socially constructed", which means there may be more or less recognition of the suffering of a victim at different times and societies.

The human race tends to remember the abuses to which it has been subjected rather than the endearments —Bertolt Brecht
See also:
Abuse of power


  • Facile aerumnam ferre possum, si inde abest iniuria:
    Etiam iniuriam, nisi contra constat contumelia.
    • Men can easily bear hardship if there is no injury with it; and they can bear even an injury, unless they have to face insults also.
  • As to abuse, I thrive on it. Abuse, hearty abuse, is a tonic to all save men of indifferent health.
  • There'a a phrase, the elephant in the living room, which purports to describe what it's like to live with a drug addict, an alcoholic, an abuser. People outside such relationships will sometimes ask, "How could you let such a business go on for so many years? Didn't you see the elephant in the living room?" And it's so hard for anyone living in a more normal situation to understand the answer that comes closest to the truth: "I'm sorry, but it was there when I moved in. I didn't know it was an elephant; I thought it was part of the furniture." There comes an aha-moment for some folks—the lucky ones—when they suddenly recognize the difference.
  • The human race tends to remember the abuses to which it has been subjected rather than the endearments. What's left of kisses? Wounds, however, leave scars.

Collins Thematic Dictionary of Quotations

Quotes reported in: Robert Andrews, ed., Collins Thematic Dictionary of Quotations (1992), pp. 1–2
  • It seldom pays to be rude. It never pays to be only half-rude.
  • Some guy hit my fender the other day, and I said unto him, 'Be fruitful, and multiply'. But not in those words.
  • A man has no more right to say an uncivil thing to another man than he has to knock him down.
  • There is more credit in being abused by fools than praised by rogues.
  • Abuse is as great a mistake in controversy as panegyric in biography.
  • Touchstone: I will name you the degrees. The first, the Retort Courteous; the second, the Quip Modest; the third, the Reply Churlish; the fourth, the Reproof Valiant; the fifth, the Countercheck Quarrelsome; the sixth, the Lie with Circumstance; the seventh, the Lie Direct.
  • A fly, Sir, may sting a stately horse and make him wince; but one is but an insect, and the other is a horse still.
    • Dr Samuel Johnson
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