Senior Member
In a letter by Charles Darwin to one of his friends he makes an odd use of the verb "abuse" which I can't figure out, as he said, after telling him about being occupied over the next period:

But first you deserve to be well abused—and pray consider yourself well abused—for thinking or writing that I could for one minute be bored by
any amount of detail about yourself and belongings.

I wonder if he meant that he was going to rebuke him for thinking that he might bore him with his details or something else.
  • lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I agree – that must be what it means (chastise/rebuke). But oddly, I can’t find that meaning in the OED. Maybe he misunderstood the word?


    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    Number 3 in our dictionary:

    to speak insultingly or harshly to or about: to abuse someone over the telephone.

    It doesn't directly mean rebuke but it describes the form of the rebuke.

    He is saying "consider yourself harshly criticized (by me) for what you said". He doesn't actually harshly criticize him so I think it has to be a bit tongue-in-cheek. He is saying "pretend you have been harshly criticized" as a way of much more gently making the point that he (Darwin) doesn't find the writer's extensive detail boring.
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