I. verb — [with obj.] 1. cease to support or look after (someone); desert • her natural mother had abandoned her at an early age.
2. leave (a place or vehicle) empty or uninhabited, without intending to return • derelict houses were abandoned.
3. ( 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.
4. give up completely (a practice or a course of action) • he had clearly abandoned all pretence of trying to succeed.
5. discontinue (a scheduled event) before completion • fans invaded the pitch and the match was abandoned.
6. ( abandon oneself to) — allow oneself to indulge in (a desire or impulse) • she abandoned herself to his kiss.
II. noun — [ mass noun] 1. complete lack of inhibition or restraint • she sings and sways with total abandon.
III. phrases abandon ship a. leave a ship because it is sinking. • a Mayday message was received before all on board abandoned ship.
b. hurriedly leave an organization or enterprise • he would rather abandon ship now than resign in shame in two years.
– origin 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).