Is shouting at someone and using words like you will be destroyed a form of abuse? Or does abuse necessarily involve some bad word etc... Will rebuke be a more appropriate word for the former statement?

  • 1
    That depends on the circumstances. If you shout that at someone who is about to step onto a railway track it isn't abuse. Please give more context, but it might be a matter of opinion. But no, abuse and rebukes do not necessarily use 'bad words'. Jul 25 at 18:17

1 Answer 1


Abuse can be purely verbal. If so, synonyms include "belittle" and "berate."

Verbal abuse need not, but frequently does, involve impolite or pejorative language. "Abuse" does imply that it is either totally unjustified or else disproportionate. In this sense, abuse has a narrower meaning than "scold," which may be justified and proportionate.

To "rebuke" is to assert in good faith that someone has done something wrong. A rebuke may be abusive as well if it is disproportionate, but a rebuke is not necessarily abusive.

  • So if someone shouts in anger and says that you will be destroyed. And the context could be I mentioned I am having chest pains, and instead of helping me, the person shouted. In this case, can I say that the person abused me?
    – rohit
    Jul 26 at 0:57
  • @rohit All I can say is that the word “abuse” is normative and therefore subjective. I can certainly agree that it would strike me as brutal and ugly in almost all cases to taunt someone having a heart attack with threats of destruction. But that judgment is without context. I might think differently if the heart attack was induced by the effort of beheading 90 kindergartners. The basic meaning of “abuse” is to treat someone immorally. I do not think there is an “objective” morality that applies without any reference to context. Jul 26 at 3:31

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