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[uh-fen-siv or for 4, 5, aw-fen-, of-en-] /əˈfɛn sɪv or for 4, 5, ˈɔ fɛn-, ˈɒf ɛn-/
causing resentful displeasure; highly irritating, angering, or annoying:
offensive television commercials.
unpleasant or disagreeable to the sense:
an offensive odor.
repugnant to the moral sense, good taste, or the like; insulting:
an offensive remark; an offensive joke.
pertaining to offense or attack:
the offensive movements of their troops.
characterized by attack; aggressive:
offensive warfare.
the position or attitude of aggression or attack:
to take the offensive.
an aggressive movement or attack:
a carefully planned naval offensive.
Origin of offensive
1540-50; < Medieval Latin offēnsīvus, equivalent to Latin offēns(us) past participle of offendere (see offend) + -īvus -ive
Related forms
offensively, adverb
offensiveness, noun
nonoffensive, adjective
nonoffensively, adverb
nonoffensiveness, noun
overoffensive, adjective
overoffensively, adverb
overoffensiveness, noun
preoffensive, adjective
preoffensively, adverb
preoffensiveness, noun
quasi-offensive, adjective
quasi-offensively, adverb
superoffensive, adjective, noun
superoffensively, adverb
superoffensiveness, noun
unoffensive, adjective
unoffensively, adverb
unoffensiveness, noun
1. displeasing, vexatious, vexing, unpleasant. See hateful. 2, 3. distasteful, disgusting, revolting, repellent. 3. repulsive, shocking. 4. invading, attacking.
1, 2. pleasing. 4. defensive.
Usage note
The label Offensive is used in this dictionary to indicate that a particular term or definition is likely to be perceived as insulting by a listener or reader—an affront to that particular individual or to an entire group of like individuals—whether or not an offense was intended. Offensive is often paired with the label Disparaging used to indicate that those people who use the offensive term do so to offend intentionally. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for offensively
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Wilding shrugged and smiled; Grey's eye was offensively upon him.

    Mistress Wilding Rafael Sabatini
  • At first she was made much of, in an offensively patronising manner.

    Chance Joseph Conrad
  • He contrived to say it so offensively that Jumbo flushed with anger.

    Oh, You Tex! William Macleod Raine
  • He struck me as a dapper man, noticeably, but not offensively, self-satisfied.

  • "That is posterity's look-out," said Hamilton, offensively; but Bones ignored the rudeness.

    Bones Edgar Wallace
  • On these occasions he was too vain to see what she was too polite to show him offensively.

    White Lies Charles Reade
  • Joe stared at Sam offensively, and continued to laugh after the others had done.

    The Huntress Hulbert Footner
British Dictionary definitions for offensively


unpleasant or disgusting, as to the senses
causing anger or annoyance; insulting
for the purpose of attack rather than defence
the offensive, an attitude or position of aggression
an assault, attack, or military initiative, esp a strategic one
Derived Forms
offensively, adverb
offensiveness, noun
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for offensively



"attacking" (1540s), "insulting" (1570s), both from Middle French offensif (16c.) and directly from Medieval Latin offensivus, from Latin offens-, past participle stem of offendere "offend" (see offend). Related: Offensively; offensiveness.



"condition of attacking, aggressive action," 1720, from offensive (adj.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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