What word am I misplacing that means 'to abuse' but takes the preposition 'on.' For example,

My best friend the attorney could give me some free advice here, but I don't want to ____ on the friendship.

My sister's wife is a doctor and could probably solve this, but I don't want to _______ on the relationship. (get free advice at someone else's disadvantage)

  • 3
    Why can't you use 'My best friend the attorney could give me some free advice here, but I don't want to abuse our friendship.'
    – 7caifyi
    Jun 28, 2019 at 14:37
  • @Christopher: this seems like a fill-the-gap type of exercise, so, you can't change the sentence. Jun 29, 2019 at 1:10

12 Answers 12


It's possible you're looking for impose on.

From Merriam-Webster

(intransitive verb) to take unwarranted advantage of something
imposed on his good nature

  • Do you have any examples of imposing on a friendship or relationship? That doesn’t sound right to me.
    – David
    Jun 26, 2019 at 19:49
  • @David: Googling "impose on our friendship" gives you quite a few examples. Jun 26, 2019 at 21:45
  • 1
    @David It was the first thing I thought of, Peter beat me to it.
    – BoldBen
    Jun 27, 2019 at 15:38
  • My reply to your comment has been wiped for some strange reason. No matter. The phrase I was thinking of is “ make a convenience of”. But that only really works with people, not with friendship.
    – David
    Jun 27, 2019 at 16:57

Another word in the same vein as the others is presume, as in I wouldn’t presume on our friendship...

This construction was more common historically than the related phrase "impose on our/a/the friendship", though in recent years they seem to be about equally common.

  • 4
    I had never heard this sense of this word until today, but according to the definition in MW, this seems closest to what OP is asking for.
    – Max
    Jun 27, 2019 at 2:26

Capitalise on

From Lexico:

Take the chance to gain advantage from.


"Impinge" seems like a fit as well.

Google: verb 1. have an effect or impact, especially a negative one.

  • 1
    This would be better with an actual dictionary reference; google isn't an original source.
    – Davo
    Jun 30, 2019 at 15:48

It is possible you are looking for the word lean:

  1. To incline the weight of the body so as to be supported: leaning against the doorpost.
  2. To rely for assistance or support: Lean on me for help.

Source: The Free Dictionary

(3) is the literal definition that fits your question. One could argue you are kind of using the word in a metaphorical sense and (2) supports that.

"When we go out for drinks, you usually pick up the tab, but I don't want to lean on our friendship."


Is the single word specifically for that sentence? Or is it just to describe taking advantage of a relationship?

Cause the way I would say it would be: I don't want to exploit the friendship.


You might be looking for the phrase to prey on:

2. To exploit, victimize, or take advantage of someone or something.
There are many thieves and con-artists in the city who prey on unsuspecting tourists.
These megacorporations are all too willing to prey upon consumers.

(source: The Free Dictionary)

but in my experience it's more often used for persons than for relations. That would make your first example

My best friend the attorney could give me some free advice here, but I don't want to prey on him/her.

  • 1
    Thank you. That certainly fits the parameters, but that has a very intentional and negative connotation. Can you think of anything that would have a more unintentional but annoying connotation? Jun 26, 2019 at 12:50
  • It does, but I went for this because you used 'to abuse' which is also quite negative ...
    – Glorfindel
    Jun 26, 2019 at 12:51

I would say "I don't want to trade on the relationship".

Webster's: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/trade

trade on : to take often unscrupulous advantage of : EXPLOIT


1) My best friend the attorney could give me some free advice here, but I don't want to profit from our friendship.

2) My best friend the attorney could give me some free advice here, but I don't want to strain our friendship.

and (but not a single word)

3) My best friend the attorney could give me some free advice here, but I don't want to overtax our friendship.

  • Good suggestions, but here on ELU, we like to have citations for suggestions. Could you please add some references and justify why you think these the most appropriate words? Thanks. Jun 28, 2019 at 13:52

Infringe could be a good fit. Merriam-Webster definition:

to encroach upon in a way that violates law or the rights of another

But Googles second result for definition is more how it is used informally:

act so as to limit or undermine (something); encroach on.

synonyms: undermine, erode, diminish, weaken, impair, damage, compromise;


You can’t really use this in the specific sentence of the OP, but, for the record, another way of expressing the idea is with the phrase:

Make a convenience of

An example of the way I would tend to use it is:

“I don’t want to appear to be making a convenience of him”

The “appear” has the force of making it clear that I value my relationship with the person.

See Collins:

make a convenience of [in British]

to take advantage of; impose upon

Although I have been informed that this is not American usage, and Collins’ definition states that it is British English, the Google ngram viewer has many examples of American usage, including one from Henry James’ The Portrait of a Lady:

‘She made a convenience of me.’

However the ngrams also shows declining use in both forms of English since about 1960. (A clue to the era in which my own vocabulary was formed.)

  • That isn’t used in American English. You might want to add a mention of where that’s used.
    – Davislor
    Jun 29, 2019 at 6:11
  • @Davislor — Thanks for pointing that out. I've edited my answer to deal with your point.
    – David
    Jun 29, 2019 at 8:48

The first word that came to my mind was:


wordnik via duckduckgo:

intransitive verb To fail to carry out a promise or commitment.

intransitive verb To fail to follow suit in cards when able and required by the rules to do so.

intransitive verb To renounce; disown.

For example searching "renege on our friendship" finds:

Qassim was my friend until a few days ago. What made him renege on our friendship? Where am I going to find another fridge on such a cold night? What have I done to deserve all this?

from https://www.shortstoryproject.com/story/rabbits-of-baghdad/

  • 2
    I'm not sure that to renounce or disown is the intention in the example sentences. Jun 27, 2019 at 18:21

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.