Is the adjective “abject” ever found with any word other than “poverty”? Does it mean something other than “very” or “utterly”?

Reading over an answer at the Skeptics StackExchange, it occurred to me that I had never really seen the adjective abject used with any other word other than poverty. Has abject become inexorably intertwined with that word, or are there other common usages or stock phrases? Also, does the word have a more subtle meaning or connotation other than an intensifier that might be summarized as “utterly”?

Answer

It just occurred to me that I know how to find this out for myself; it took a little learning of syntax, but I borrowed from nohat‘s bag of tricks and searched the COCA for [abject].[j*] [n*], and these are the top 10 results it gave:

ABJECT POVERTY      107  
ABJECT FAILURE       53  
ABJECT TERROR        25  
ABJECT FEAR          18  
ABJECT SURRENDER     11  
ABJECT MISERY         7  
ABJECT DEFEAT         7  
ABJECT DESPAIR        7  
ABJECT APOLOGY        7  
ABJECT APOLOGIES      5  

As I remembered, abject poverty did massively top the list of these abject constructions; The Raven‘s abject failure follows closely after it. But their dominance isn’t as overwhelming as I would have thought.

Just for kicks, here is the Google N-gram usage data for those top 10:

Abject adjective collocatives

Attribution
Source : Link , Question Author : Uticensis , Answer Author : Community

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