Top 40 Slang For Mistreatment – Meaning & Usage

When it comes to expressing experiences of mistreatment, language can play a powerful role in capturing the nuances of these difficult situations. Our team has curated a list of slang terms that encapsulate various forms of mistreatment, shedding light on the often hidden aspects of society. Dive into this compilation to gain a deeper understanding of these expressions and empower yourself with the vocabulary to address such issues effectively.

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1. Abuse

Abuse refers to the act of mistreating or harming someone physically, mentally, or emotionally. It involves exerting power and control over another person, often causing them pain or distress.

  • For example, “She suffered years of abuse at the hands of her partner.”
  • In a discussion about child abuse, someone might say, “We need to raise awareness about the signs of abuse.”
  • A survivor of abuse might share their story, saying, “I finally broke free from the cycle of abuse and found healing.”

2. Bully

Bullying involves using power or strength to intimidate, harm, or control others. It typically occurs repeatedly over time and can take various forms, including physical, verbal, or relational aggression.

  • For instance, “He was constantly bullied by his classmates, both online and offline.”
  • In a conversation about workplace bullying, someone might say, “We need stronger policies to address bullying in the office.”
  • A victim of bullying might share their experience, saying, “I was able to overcome the effects of bullying and regain my confidence.”

3. Harass

Harassment refers to unwanted, persistent behavior that is intended to annoy, threaten, or intimidate someone. It can occur in various contexts, such as the workplace, online, or in public spaces.

  • For example, “She filed a complaint against her coworker for sexual harassment.”
  • In a discussion about street harassment, someone might say, “No one should have to endure constant harassment while walking down the street.”
  • A survivor of harassment might share their story, saying, “I spoke up about the harassment I faced, and it led to positive changes in my workplace.”

4. Discriminate

Discrimination involves treating someone unfairly or differently based on their race, gender, age, religion, or other characteristics. It can manifest in various forms, such as exclusion, unequal treatment, or biased decision-making.

  • For instance, “She faced discrimination when applying for jobs due to her ethnic background.”
  • In a conversation about LGBTQ+ rights, someone might say, “Discrimination against the queer community is still prevalent in many countries.”
  • A victim of discrimination might share their experience, saying, “I fought against the discrimination I faced and advocated for equal rights.”

5. Oppress

Oppression refers to the unjust or cruel exercise of authority or power over others, often resulting in the denial of their rights, freedom, or voice. It involves maintaining control and dominance through systematic mistreatment or discrimination.

  • For example, “The government’s oppressive policies silenced dissenting voices.”
  • In a discussion about historical oppression, someone might say, “We must acknowledge and address the ongoing effects of past oppressions.”
  • A survivor of oppression might share their story, saying, “I overcame the oppressions I faced and fought for justice and equality.”

6. Exploit

To exploit someone means to take advantage of their vulnerability or weakness for personal gain or benefit. It often involves manipulating or using someone for one’s own interests.

  • For example, “The company exploited its workers by paying them below minimum wage.”
  • In a discussion about relationships, someone might say, “He constantly exploits her kindness and generosity.”
  • A news article might report, “The politician was accused of exploiting public funds for personal expenses.”

7. Victimize

To victimize someone means to make them a target of mistreatment, abuse, or harm. It involves subjecting someone to unfair or unjust treatment, often resulting in their suffering or disadvantage.

  • For instance, “She was victimized by online harassment and cyberbullying.”
  • In a discussion about crime, someone might say, “The vulnerable population is often victimized by scams and fraud.”
  • A news headline might read, “Local business owners speak out against being victimized by extortion.”

8. Gaslight

To gaslight someone means to manipulate their perception of reality or make them doubt their own sanity. It involves distorting or denying facts, causing the person to question their memory, perception, or judgment.

  • For example, “He constantly gaslights his partner by denying things he said or did.”
  • In a discussion about emotional abuse, someone might say, “Gaslighting is a common tactic used by manipulative individuals.”
  • A psychologist might explain, “Gaslighting can have severe psychological effects on the victim, leading to self-doubt and confusion.”

9. Neglect

To neglect someone means to fail to provide them with the care, attention, or support they need. It involves disregarding or ignoring someone’s needs or well-being, often resulting in harm or negative consequences.

  • For instance, “The child was neglected by their parents, leading to malnourishment and poor health.”
  • In a discussion about animal welfare, someone might say, “Neglecting pets is a form of animal cruelty.”
  • A news report might state, “The elderly population is often neglected in nursing homes, leading to neglect-related injuries and illnesses.”

10. Degrade

To degrade someone means to treat them with disrespect, humiliation, or contempt. It involves diminishing or belittling someone’s worth, dignity, or value, often causing emotional or psychological harm.

  • For example, “She was degraded by her boss in front of her colleagues, causing her to feel ashamed.”
  • In a discussion about discrimination, someone might say, “Racist comments degrade individuals and perpetuate harmful stereotypes.”
  • A social worker might explain, “Children who experience constant degradation at home may develop low self-esteem and behavioral issues.”

11. Dominate

To assert control or authority over someone or something, often in a forceful or oppressive manner.

  • For example, “The bully tried to dominate his classmates by intimidating them.”
  • In a sports context, one team might dominate another by winning by a large margin.
  • A manager might try to dominate a meeting by not allowing others to speak.
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12. Belittle

To make someone feel small or insignificant by criticizing or mocking them.

  • For instance, “He constantly belittles his coworkers to make himself feel superior.”
  • A parent might unintentionally belittle their child’s accomplishments by saying, “That’s nice, but it’s not a big deal.”
  • A teacher might belittle a student’s efforts by saying, “You’ll never amount to anything.”

13. Humiliate

To cause someone to feel extreme shame or embarrassment, often in a public or humiliating manner.

  • For example, “He humiliated his ex-girlfriend by spreading rumors about her.”
  • A prank gone wrong might result in someone being humiliated in front of their friends.
  • A boss might humiliate an employee by publicly criticizing their work in front of their colleagues.

14. Expel

To force someone to leave or be removed from a place or group.

  • For instance, “The school expelled the student for breaking the rules.”
  • A member of a club might be expelled for consistently violating the club’s code of conduct.
  • A landlord might choose to expel a tenant for not paying rent.

15. Marginalize

To treat someone or a group as insignificant or unimportant, often by denying them access to resources or opportunities.

  • For example, “The government’s policies marginalized certain minority groups.”
  • A company might marginalize certain employees by not including them in important decision-making processes.
  • A teacher might unintentionally marginalize a student by not providing them with the same opportunities as their peers.

16. Scapegoat

A scapegoat is a person who is unfairly blamed for the mistakes or wrongdoings of others. It is a term used to describe someone who takes the fall for someone else’s actions.

  • For example, in a work setting, a boss might say, “Don’t make me the scapegoat for your team’s failure.”
  • In a family argument, one sibling might accuse another of being the scapegoat, saying, “You always get blamed for everything.”
  • In politics, a politician might use a particular group as a scapegoat to divert attention from their own shortcomings.

17. Disparage

To disparage means to belittle or criticize someone or something. It is a term used to describe the act of speaking negatively or disrespectfully about someone or something.

  • For instance, in a heated argument, one person might say, “Stop trying to disparage my reputation.”
  • In a review of a movie, a critic might write, “The film received disparaging reviews from multiple sources.”
  • In a conversation about a coworker, someone might say, “He always tries to disparage others to make himself look better.”

18. Undermine

To undermine means to weaken, subvert, or sabotage someone or something. It is a term used to describe actions that intentionally diminish the effectiveness or credibility of someone or something.

  • For example, in a team project, one member might undermine the efforts of others by intentionally withholding information.
  • In a relationship, one partner might undermine the other’s self-confidence by constantly criticizing them.
  • In a political campaign, a candidate might try to undermine their opponent’s reputation by spreading false information.

19. Pester

To pester means to persistently bother or annoy someone. It is a term used to describe actions that are repetitive and bothersome.

  • For instance, a child might pester their parent to buy them a toy, saying, “Can we get it? Can we get it?”
  • In a workplace, a coworker might pester another with constant requests for help or information.
  • In a social setting, someone might pester their friend to go out with them, asking, “Come on, please? Just this once?”

20. Intimidate

To intimidate means to frighten or threaten someone in order to make them do something or to create fear. It is a term used to describe actions that instill fear or make someone feel powerless.

  • For example, a person might intimidate their coworker by making aggressive gestures or using threatening language.
  • In a school setting, a bully might intimidate their peers by spreading rumors or physically intimidating them.
  • In a relationship, one partner might use intimidation tactics to control the other person’s behavior.

21. Manipulate

To manipulate someone means to control or influence them in a deceptive or unfair way, often by playing mind games. It involves using tactics such as lying, guilt-tripping, or gaslighting to make the person do what you want.

  • For example, a manipulative person might say, “If you really loved me, you would do this for me.”
  • In a toxic relationship, one person might manipulate the other by constantly changing the rules and expectations.
  • A victim of manipulation might say, “I always feel like I’m walking on eggshells around them.”

22. Coerce

Coercion involves using force or pressure to make someone do something against their will. It can be physical, emotional, or psychological in nature.

  • For instance, a person might say, “If you don’t do what I say, I’ll make sure you lose your job.”
  • In a bullying situation, the bully might coerce their victim into giving them money or doing their homework.
  • A survivor of domestic abuse might say, “He would often coerce me into staying with him by threatening to harm himself.”

23. Expatriate

To expatriate someone means to banish or exile them from a country or community. It can also refer to someone voluntarily leaving their home country to live abroad.

  • For example, a government might expatriate a foreign spy as a punishment.
  • In a historical context, a person might be expatriated for political reasons, such as being a dissident.
  • Someone who has left their home country might say, “I decided to expatriate and start a new life in a different country.”

24. Ostracize

Ostracizing someone means to exclude or shun them from a group or community. It involves intentionally ignoring or avoiding the person, often as a form of punishment or social rejection.

  • For instance, a group of friends might ostracize someone for betraying their trust.
  • In a workplace, colleagues might ostracize a coworker they don’t get along with, making them feel isolated.
  • A person who has been ostracized might say, “I feel like I’m invisible to everyone. They’ve completely ostracized me.”

25. Torment

To torment someone means to cause them extreme suffering, either physically or emotionally. It involves intentionally inflicting pain, fear, or distress on the person.

  • For example, a bully might torment their victim by constantly mocking and belittling them.
  • In a horror movie, the villain might torment their victims by trapping them in a dangerous situation.
  • A survivor of abuse might say, “He used to torment me every day, making me feel worthless and afraid.”

26. Persecute

To persecute someone means to target them unfairly or subject them to hostility and ill-treatment based on their race, religion, or beliefs. It can also refer to the act of harassing or oppressing someone for their opinions or actions.

  • For example, “The government persecuted the religious minority for their beliefs.”
  • In a discussion about social justice, someone might say, “We must fight against any form of persecution based on race or gender.”
  • A person sharing their personal experience might say, “I was persecuted for speaking out against corruption in my workplace.”

27. Maltreat

To maltreat someone means to abuse or mistreat them, often causing physical or emotional harm. It can refer to any form of cruel or violent treatment towards another person or animal.

  • For instance, “The child was maltreated by their caregivers, resulting in severe trauma.”
  • In a conversation about animal rights, someone might say, “It’s heartbreaking to see animals being maltreated in puppy mills.”
  • A person discussing domestic violence might say, “No one deserves to be maltreated by their partner.”

28. Opprobrium

Opprobrium refers to public disgrace or strong disapproval, often based on moral or ethical grounds. It can be used to describe the act of shaming or condemning someone for their actions or behavior.

  • For example, “The politician faced widespread opprobrium after being caught in a corruption scandal.”
  • In a discussion about social media, someone might say, “People often resort to opprobrium when they disagree with someone’s opinion.”
  • A person expressing their disappointment might say, “His actions brought opprobrium upon the entire organization.”

29. Vilify

To vilify someone means to defame or slander them, often with the intention of damaging their reputation or character. It involves spreading false or harmful information about someone to discredit or disparage them.

  • For instance, “The tabloid magazine vilified the celebrity with false stories and rumors.”
  • In a conversation about online bullying, someone might say, “People often hide behind anonymity to vilify others on social media.”
  • A person discussing politics might say, “It’s unfortunate how politicians often resort to vilifying their opponents instead of focusing on the issues.”

30. Denigrate

To denigrate someone means to belittle or criticize them unfairly, often with the intention of undermining their worth or reputation. It involves making derogatory or disparaging remarks about someone.

  • For example, “The boss constantly denigrated his employees, making them feel incompetent.”
  • In a discussion about body image, someone might say, “We need to challenge the media’s tendency to denigrate people based on their appearance.”
  • A person sharing their experience might say, “I was denigrated by my classmates for being different, and it affected my self-esteem.”

31. Slander

Slander refers to making false spoken statements about someone that damages their reputation. It involves spreading false information or rumors about someone with the intent to harm their character.

  • For example, “She slandered her ex-boyfriend by spreading rumors that he cheated on her.”
  • In a legal context, someone might say, “He filed a lawsuit against her for slander.”
  • A person might warn others, “Be careful not to engage in slander, as it can have serious consequences.”

32. Defame

Defame means to damage someone’s reputation by spreading false information or making false claims about them. It involves making statements that harm a person’s character or good name.

  • For instance, “He tried to defame his competitor by spreading false rumors about their business practices.”
  • In a legal context, someone might say, “She sued him for defamation.”
  • A person might caution others, “Beware of individuals who try to defame others for personal gain.”

33. Libel

Libel refers to making false written statements about someone that damages their reputation. It involves spreading false information or rumors about someone through written communication, such as articles, blog posts, or social media posts.

  • For example, “The newspaper published a libelous article about the politician.”
  • In a legal context, someone might say, “She filed a libel lawsuit against the author.”
  • A person might advise, “Think twice before posting anything online that could be considered libelous.”

34. Calumny

Calumny is the act of making false statements about someone with the intent to harm their reputation. It involves spreading false information or rumors about someone in order to damage their character.

  • For instance, “He resorted to calumny to ruin his rival’s chances of winning the election.”
  • In a discussion about ethics, someone might say, “Calumny is a form of deceitful behavior that should never be tolerated.”
  • A person might warn others, “Be cautious of individuals who engage in calumny to achieve their own agenda.”

35. Slur

A slur is a derogatory term or remark that is used to insult or demean a person or a group of people based on their race, ethnicity, gender, or other characteristics. It involves using offensive language or expressions to mistreat or belittle others.

  • For example, “He used a racial slur against his coworker, causing tension in the workplace.”
  • In a discussion about equality, someone might say, “Using slurs perpetuates discrimination and reinforces harmful stereotypes.”
  • A person might emphasize, “It’s important to challenge and confront slurs whenever we encounter them to promote inclusivity and respect.”

36. Stigmatize

To stigmatize someone is to label them in a negative or disapproving way, often leading to social exclusion or discrimination. It is a form of mistreatment based on stereotypes or prejudices.

  • For example, “Don’t stigmatize people with mental illnesses. They deserve understanding and support.”
  • In a discussion about body image, someone might say, “We need to stop stigmatizing different body types and embrace diversity.”
  • A person might argue, “Stigmatizing individuals based on their sexual orientation is not only hurtful but also perpetuates discrimination.”

37. Shun

To shun someone is to purposefully avoid them or exclude them from social interactions. It is a form of mistreatment that can lead to feelings of isolation and rejection.

  • For instance, “The group decided to shun the new student, making them feel unwelcome.”
  • In a conversation about workplace dynamics, someone might say, “It’s important not to shun colleagues who have different opinions. We should encourage open dialogue.”
  • A person might advise, “If you want to build strong relationships, avoid shunning others and instead practice empathy and understanding.”

38. Mistreat

To mistreat someone is to treat them poorly or unfairly, often causing them physical, emotional, or psychological harm. It involves actions or behaviors that disregard the well-being or rights of another person.

  • For example, “It is never acceptable to mistreat animals. They deserve to be treated with kindness and respect.”
  • In a discussion about workplace dynamics, someone might say, “Employees should report any instances of mistreatment to their HR department.”
  • A person might argue, “Children should be taught from an early age that it is wrong to mistreat others.”

39. Tyrannize

To tyrannize someone is to exert power or control over them in a cruel or oppressive manner. It involves using force or intimidation to subjugate others, often resulting in fear and submissiveness.

  • For instance, “The dictator’s regime tyrannized the population, suppressing any form of dissent.”
  • In a conversation about abusive relationships, someone might say, “No one should tolerate a partner who tries to tyrannize them.”
  • A person might argue, “History has shown the devastating consequences of leaders who tyrannize their own people.”

40. Demean

To demean someone is to belittle or degrade them, often through words or actions that undermine their self-worth or dignity. It is a form of mistreatment that can have long-lasting psychological effects.

  • For example, “Using derogatory language to demean others is never acceptable.”
  • In a discussion about workplace dynamics, someone might say, “A toxic work environment is characterized by demeaning behavior.”
  • A person might advise, “Instead of demeaning others, let’s focus on building each other up and fostering a positive and supportive environment.”