- an interjectory word or expression, frequently profane; an exclamatory oath.
- a syllable, word, or phrase serving to fill out.
- Grammar. a word considered as regularly filling the syntactic position of another, as it in It is his duty to go, or there in There is nothing here.
- Also ex·ple·to·ry [ek-spli-tawr-ee, -tohr-ee] /ˈɛk splɪˌtɔr i, -ˌtoʊr i/. added merely to fill out a sentence or line, give emphasis, etc.: Expletive remarks padded the speech.
Origin of expletive
- an exclamation or swearword; an oath or a sound expressing an emotional reaction rather than any particular meaning
- any syllable, word, or phrase conveying no independent meaning, esp one inserted in a line of verse for the sake of the metre
- expressing no particular meaning, esp when filling out a line of verse
Word Origin for expletive
1610s, originally "a word or phrase serving to fill out a sentence or metrical line," from Middle French explétif (15c.) and directly from Late Latin expletivus "serving to fill out," from explet-, past participle stem of Latin explere "fill out," from ex- "out" (see ex-) + plere "to fill" (see pleio-).
Sense of "exclamation," often in the form of a cuss word, first recorded 1815 in Sir Walter Scott, popularized by edited transcripts of Watergate tapes (mid-1970s), in which expletive deleted replaced President Nixon's salty expressions. As an adjective, from 1660s.
mid-15c., from Latin expletivus (see expletive (n.)).
Any exclamation or oath, especially one that is obscene or profane, as in “Dammit, I forgot to buy the milk.”