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The word abuse can be used as either a noun or a verb, but it’s pronounced differently depending on which it is. When used as a noun it’s pronounced like “ab,” as in short for abdominal, rammed up against the word “use.” When it’s a verb it’s pronounced like “ab,” as in short for abdominal, rammed up against the word “use.”

Damn! Damn! Damn! The word use is pronounced two different ways depending on whether it’s a noun or verb too. One day I’m going to have to learn the phonetic spellings that dictionaries use. Until then, ask a friend about the different pronunciations of abuse if you don’t know them. If your none of your friends know, get more erudite friends.

Abuse. What can I say about abuse? Nothing good, I’m afraid.

The noun abuse refers to a corrupt practice, the improper and/or unwise use of a substance (think drug abuse), or the physical or verbal mistreatment of another being.

When it’s used as a noun you’ll often hear another noun before abuse. There was an example in the preceding sentence, drug abuse, but you might also, unfortunately, hear the terms wife abuse, husband abuse (or, collectively, spouse abuse), child abuse and animal abuse, to name just three.

(An aside: I don’t want to get the people at People for Ethical Treatment for Animals, PETA, angry, but the truth is I get a little less upset about animal abuse than about people, particularly children, abuse. Why? I’m not a vegetarian and I try to not be a hypocrite. I think it’s hideous to abuse an animal solely for abuse’s sake, but I like steaks, corned beef sandwiches, lamb, veal, foie gras (yes, foie gras, you can despise me now), salmon, shrimp, lobster and a few other meat and fish dishes.)

Defining the verb abuse is much easier now that I’ve defined the noun. To abuse somebody or something means to employ the noun meaning of abuse against her, him or it.

To put things in perspective, most people aren’t abusers of other people. And even fewer dole out physical, as opposed to verbal abuse. Not that verbal abuse is acceptable. Far from it. It’s just less likely that you’ll need bandages and possibly splints, surgery or a funeral afterward.

Nonetheless, there is way to much abuse in this world. How did this come to be? The answer is simple. There are too way many assholes in this world.

Just to be clear, when I used the word assholes I was using the vernacular, as in, a creep of epic proportion, not literally assholes.

When it comes to literal assholes, the vast majority of people have just the right number, namely one. So, we have just about the right number of literal assholes in the world.

However, there are way, way, way too rhetorical assholes.

Enough about assholes. I don’t want this to be flagged as an adult-only Web page.

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