Definition of abandon in English:

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Pronunciation: /əˈband(ə)n/


[with object]
1Cease to support or look after (someone); desert: her natural mother had abandoned her at an early age
More example sentences
  • He was accusing ME of trying to desert him, abandoning him.
  • Several actors who had supported his candidacy abandoned him.
  • For all I knew, he abandoned you in the desert and had come back, with you having no idea where he was going.
desert, leave, leave high and dry, turn one's back on, cast aside, break (up) with;
jilt, strand, leave stranded, leave in the lurch, throw over
British informal give someone the push, give someone the big E, bin off
archaic forsake
1.1Leave (a place or vehicle) empty or uninhabited, without intending to return: derelict houses were abandoned
More example sentences
  • The place was empty, the freshmen abandoned their rooms for the promise of ice cream.
  • After months of madness in the house, they decided to abandon the place and move back to Philadelphia.
  • And surely, I should feel equally sorry for myself - and for all those others like me who have abandoned such places.
1.2 (abandon someone/thing to) Condemn someone or something to (a specified fate) by ceasing to take an interest in them: an attempt to persuade businesses not to abandon the area to inner-city deprivation
More example sentences
  • Angry survivors told how the captain fled his ship by lifeboat and abandoned passengers to their fate.
  • But, unfortunately, some parents seem to be oblivious to this perception and abandon such children to their fate.
  • Under cover of darkness, a group of 30 men slipped away, abandoning their comrades to their fate.
2Give up completely (a practice or a course of action): he had clearly abandoned all pretence of trying to succeed negotiations were abandoned and fighting intensified
More example sentences
  • Church of England bishops were formerly also bewigged, but abandoned the practice around 1840.
  • He abandoned his course of study at 21 when he was commissioned to write a history of Australian painting.
  • However, the company doesn't want to abandon the practice, and hopes new technology will improve the return on investment.
2.1Discontinue (a scheduled event) before completion: fans invaded the pitch and the match was abandoned
More example sentences
  • Last year's event was abandoned after just two days when heavy rain and traffic chaos conspired to make it a wash-out.
  • They had been forced to abandon the event ‘due to circumstances beyond our control’.
  • The men's event was abandoned while he was enjoying a comfortable lead.
3 (abandon oneself to) Allow oneself to indulge in (a desire or impulse): she abandoned herself to his kiss
More example sentences
  • When you abandon yourself to pleasure and desire keep an eye on inner and outer balance, as you tend to overindulge.
  • Every year the city abandons itself to the heady allure of the world's largest arts festival.
  • There are moments in the column when he understands what a hopeless task he has taken on and abandons himself to the full intoxication of giddy absurdity.


[mass noun]
Complete lack of inhibition or restraint: she sings and sways with total abandon
More example sentences
  • I drove recklessly and with total abandon as I sped as fast as I could through the suburban streets of Redmond.
  • Later, he looked up into her eyes, and saw an odd concentration there, a lack of abandon.
  • The results could be quite elegant, but sometimes lacked the feeling of abandon and adventure present in the music's greatest improvised solos.
uninhibitedness, recklessness, lack of restraint, lack of inhibition, unruliness, wildness, impulsiveness, impetuosity, immoderation, wantonness


abandon ship

Leave a ship because it is sinking: a Mayday message was received before all on board abandoned ship
More example sentences
  • The resultant fire forced the ship's company to abandon ship.
  • The men had no radio, lifejackets or lifebelts, and had been unable to abandon ship or attract attention to their plight.
  • Submarines were supposed to surface and give crews time to abandon ship before sinking their vessels.
1.1Hurriedly leave an organization or enterprise: he would rather abandon ship now than resign in shame in two years
More example sentences
  • Media bosses, by contrast, seem not to be able to abandon ship quickly enough.
  • Many Britons are choosing to abandon ship in search of sunnier climates.
  • Our captains of democracy abandoned ship a long time ago.


Late Middle English: from Old French abandoner, from a- (from Latin ad 'to, at') + bandon 'control' (related to ban1). The original sense was 'bring under control', later 'give in to the control of, surrender to' (sense 3 of the verb).

  • ban from Old English:

    In Old English this meant ‘to summon by popular proclamation’. The word is Germanic and also passed into French where it had the sense ‘proclamation, summons, banishment’. This lies behind abandon (Late Middle English) based on the Old French phrase a bandon ‘at one's disposal, under one's jurisdiction’; and banal (mid 18th century) which originally related to feudal service and meant ‘compulsory’. From this came a notion of ‘common to everyone’ and so ‘ordinary and everyday’. The marriage banns (Middle English) read in church also come from the sense ‘proclamation’. Bandit (late 16th century) comes from Italian bandito a ‘banned person’, and banish (Late Middle English) comes from the same root.

Words that rhyme with abandon

Brandon, Rwandan, Ugandan

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: aban|don

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