From the word abuse we can derive the adjective abusive by adding the suffix -ive.

Can we form an adjective starting from misuse? If so, what is the adjectival form of the word misuse? Is it misusive?

If you think this is not correct, do you have any suggestions, or do you know any synonyms for it that don’t share the same root?

  • 4
    What about "misused".
    – BillJ
    Aug 8, 2021 at 12:40
  • @BillJ I look for something other than gerund or past-participle forms. Aug 8, 2021 at 12:43
  • Can you give us an example with context? Knowing how you want to use the word may make it easier to come up with another adjective or a workaround.
    – DjinTonic
    Aug 8, 2021 at 14:08
  • 4
    It's an adjective form in, for example, "The often misused word ... ". And it can be modified by "very", as in "a very misused word".
    – BillJ
    Aug 8, 2021 at 15:11
  • @BillJ Yes. However, as used in one example in my answer, a misusive advance made by a person has, I believe, a meaning not captured by a misused advance.
    – DjinTonic
    Aug 8, 2021 at 15:52

3 Answers 3


I don't see it in any online dictionary or law dictionary I've checked so far, and the spellchecker here certainly doesn't care for it. However, this adjective is used. Not finding it in a dictionary, I would avoid it for common usage. It's rare in print, but it may be more common in legal language or specialized fields.

Subsection 245(4) is where the concept of abusive avoidance transaction originates but instead of using abusive it uses misuse. The simultaneity of the verb misuse and the adjective abusive has to be acknowledge otherwise most of the subsequent cases would be using "misusive avoidance transaction" as opposed to "abusive avoidance transaction". That would indeed be an uncomfortable outcome. Playing with Players: The Sacred and Profane Meanderings of a Tax Auditor (2020) p.168

...it has been held that invocation of privilege would be "frivolous" or "misusive". (1992) ref

Children's awareness and acceptance of their own sexuality will impact on their ability to accurately recognize a sexually misusive advance... ref (1990)

the speech-language pathologist, whose responsibility is evaluating and treating specific abusive/misusive behaviors of the speaking voice. Voice Therapy (2017)

I would normally have read the last example and assumed misusive would be found under misuse. It's of note that your question and both the first and last examples contrast misusive and abusive.

  • The OED provides the following citation: “The wanton misuse, or rather the misuseful wantonness, of the Indian herb [sc. tobacco].” Derivational morphology seldom holds surprises, and this is not one of them. :)
    – tchrist
    Aug 8, 2021 at 17:38
  • 2
    @tchrist That's from a letter that can be found in its entirely in Old Friends: Essays in Epistolary Parody gutenberg.org/files/1991/1991-h/1991-h.htm Just do a page find for misuseful-- strangefully, there aren't that many. :)
    – DjinTonic
    Aug 8, 2021 at 19:10

Perverse is probably the closest commonly used adjective.


1a. Of a person, action, etc.: going or disposed to go against what is reasonable, logical, expected, or required; contrary, fickle, irrational.

1906 J. Galsworthy Man of Prop. 72 A distaste born perhaps by the perverse processes of Nature out of a secret fund of brutality in himself.

1987 P. Farmer Away from Home (1988) 52 She just says, ‘So what?’ knowing she is being perverse, but not caring in the slightest.

2b. Contrary to an accepted standard or practice; incorrect, mistaken, wrong; (of an argument, interpretation, etc.) unjustifiable, contradictory, distorted.

1910 Times 27 Apr. 6/4 This department was open to the imputation either of ignorance of the law or of a perverse interpretation of it.

2000 G. R. Evans Bernard of Clairvaux ii. 36 It would be a perverse understanding of the meaning of obedience if a higher duty (to do right) was disregarded for the sake of a lower (the duty to obey one's abbot).


(I didn't want to add a suggestion to my answer above, or the checkmark might taken as the OP's approval.)


2: lacking in fitness or aptitude : UNFIT inept at sport
3: not suitable to the time, place, or occasion : inappropriate often to an absurd degree m-w

  1. not suitable to the purpose; unfit collins

Used in relation to abusive:

...concluded that one-third of those who are abused as children grow up to continue a pattern of inept or abusive parenting... Psychoanalytic Therapy After Child Abuse (2018)

Another consideration in relation to open confidentiality in work with juvenile sexual abusers relates to the need to protect the young person from an inept or possibly abusive therapist. ref (2006)

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