[ ek-spli-tiv ]
/ ˈɛk splɪ tɪv /


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

1600–10; < Late Latin explētīvus serving to fill out, equivalent to Latin explēt(us) filled, filled up (past participle of explēre; see explement) + -īvus -ive

Related forms

ex·ple·tive·ly, adverb
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for expletory

  • This was a new addition to his expletory vocabulary, which had accrued from Ned Burnleigh's companionship.

    The Red Acorn|John McElroy

British Dictionary definitions for expletory


/ (ɪkˈspliːtɪv) /


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

adjective Also: expletory (ɪkˈspliːtərɪ)

expressing no particular meaning, esp when filling out a line of verse

Derived Forms

expletively, adverb

Word Origin for expletive

C17: from Late Latin explētīvus for filling out, from explēre, from plēre to fill
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

Culture definitions for expletory


[ (ek-spluh-tiv) ]

Any exclamation or oath, especially one that is obscene or profane, as in “Dammit, I forgot to buy the milk.”


The Oval Office tapes of President Richard Nixon, released during the investigation of the Watergate scandal, made famous the phrase “expletive deleted,” which appeared frequently in expurgated transcripts of the tapes.
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.