I am looking for a term describing the neglect of a living being under one's responsibility, such as a child or animal.

Spontaneously I thought of court procedures, with the sad cases of children being neglected, which I believe is categorised as child abuse. The same applies for pets and livestock.

Abuse may imply things such as physical harm though, which I would like to exclude.

I would like to be able to put it in the phrase

Did you hear, so-and-so were caught with _____!

Are there any terms, legal or otherwise, that may be of use?

I searched Merriam-Webster, but primarily came across words neglecting property/infrastructure or official duties, such as abandonment or misprision.

Oxford Dictionaries also didn't offer many alternatives, as far as I could tell.

  • The term is negligence. But you can't be "caught with it": you can be charged with negligence.
    – Lambie
    Dec 18, 2018 at 20:12
  • 2
    @Lambie You can't be charged with negligence as it's not a crime: in common law jurisdictions, negligence is a tort, a civil matter. Criminal negligence is terminology used in many jurisdictions... but that refers to a state of mind required for conviction - the mens rea - not to a crime in itself. (Vehicular homicide/death by dangerous driving, manslaughter/second degree murder and negligent endangerment are all examples of specific crimes with a criminal negligence or equivalent level of intent.)
    – tmgr
    Dec 18, 2018 at 20:38
  • 1
    Besides what you spontaneiously thought of, have you researched the dictionary or any thesaurus for related words or expressions? Those examples would be helpful in your question, Dec 18, 2018 at 21:16
  • 1
    @KristinaLopez Thank you for pointing it out. My question has been updated concerning your question. Dec 18, 2018 at 21:30
  • Such a question may have different answers in different jurisdictions; it can thus be answered only within the context of a specified legal system. Within such a context, it would be a legal question, and thus outside the scope of this site.
    – jsw29
    Dec 22, 2018 at 23:49

2 Answers 2


Neglect is the right term for this, see for example this Wikipedia article.

Neglect is a form of abuse where the perpetrator, who is responsible for caring for someone who is unable to care for themselves, fails to do so.

Physical harm is not mentioned at all.

Further examples:

Animal neglect or abandonment is a common type of animal cruelty where people do not provide adequate care for animals in their charge.

(source: USLegal.com)

Child neglect is a form of child abuse, and is a deficit in meeting a child's basic needs, including the failure to provide adequate health care, supervision, clothing, nutrition, housing as well as their physical, emotional, social, educational and safety needs.

(source: Wikipedia)

  • Is there a combined term? Dec 18, 2018 at 20:17
  • @ALambentEye I thought you were attending to other matters?
    – Lordology
    Dec 18, 2018 at 20:19
  • @Lordology I am, this was sent off before I averted my attention. I am still unavailable. Dec 18, 2018 at 20:24
  • @ALambentEye are you back?
    – Lordology
    Dec 18, 2018 at 20:25

abuse Wikipedia

the mistreatment of people, systems or animals

If you abuse an entity, it means you are hurting that entity, mentally, emotionally, or physically.

As in:

Did you hear, so-and-so were caught abusing animals!


Did you hear, so-and-so were caught abusing children!

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