View synonyms for offensive


[ uh-fen-siv aw-fen-, of-en- ]


  1. causing resentful displeasure; highly irritating, angering, or annoying:

    offensive television commercials.

    Synonyms: unpleasant, vexatious

    Antonyms: pleasing

  2. unpleasant or disagreeable to the sense:

    an offensive odor.

    Synonyms: repellent, revolting, disgusting, distasteful

    Antonyms: pleasing

  3. repugnant to the moral sense, good taste, or the like; insulting:

    an offensive remark; an offensive joke.

    Synonyms: disgusting, distasteful, shocking, repulsive, repellent, revolting

  4. pertaining to offense or attack:

    the offensive movements of their troops.

    Antonyms: defensive

  5. characterized by attack; aggressive:

    offensive warfare.


  1. the position or attitude of aggression or attack:

    to take the offensive.

  2. an aggressive movement or attack:

    a carefully planned naval offensive.


/ əˈfɛnsɪv /


  1. unpleasant or disgusting, as to the senses
  2. causing anger or annoyance; insulting
  3. for the purpose of attack rather than defence


  1. the offensive
    an attitude or position of aggression
  2. an assault, attack, or military initiative, esp a strategic one

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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, which is used to indicate that those people who use the offensive term do so to offend intentionally.

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Derived Forms

  • ofˈfensiveness, noun
  • ofˈfensively, adverb

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Other Words From

  • of·fensive·ly adverb
  • of·fensive·ness noun
  • nonof·fensive adjective
  • nonof·fensive·ly adverb
  • nonof·fensive·ness noun
  • over·of·fensive adjective
  • over·of·fensive·ly adverb
  • over·of·fensive·ness noun
  • preof·fensive adjective
  • preof·fensive·ly adverb
  • preof·fensive·ness noun
  • quasi-of·fensive adjective
  • quasi-of·fensive·ly adverb
  • super·of·fensive adjective noun
  • super·of·fensive·ly adverb
  • super·of·fensive·ness noun
  • unof·fensive adjective
  • unof·fensive·ly adverb
  • unof·fensive·ness noun

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Word History and Origins

Origin of offensive1

First recorded in 1540–50; from Medieval Latin offēnsīvus, from Latin offēns(us) “struck against” (past participle of offendere “to strike against, displease”; offend ) + -īvus -ive

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Synonym Study

See hateful.

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Example Sentences

It marked the first time the organization agreed to change a bird’s name because it was racially offensive.

He risks upsetting the fans, not to mention his offensive line.

Okay, Einav Hart is a good sport, but our goal today isn’t to ask questions that are outright offensive.

Heinicke, who was set to become a restricted free agent in March, said he wanted to stay with Washington because a two-year deal gives him security and he feels comfortable with Coach Ron Rivera and offensive coordinator Scott Turner.

Taking advanced metrics like those into account, Turner’s defensive contributions stand out far more than his traditional offensive numbers do.

There is no such thing as speech so hateful or offensive it somehow “justifies” or “legitimizes” the use of violence.

It is not only clerics and Islamic ideologues who use offensive words and images to describe the sexual life of Westerners.

After all, the Russians were about to mount a winter offensive of their own.

Seeking to be celebrated for simply hiring a woman is tokenizing and offensive.

The story was so appalling, the attack so brutish and morally offensive, that it provoked an immediate, furious response.

It being offensive to the French, they took none of it with them on their return.

They determined that an offensive war should be carried on against them, and voted to raise 90 men!

But he is as insolent as you could wish, and has a superb confidence in himself that his enemies call by the most offensive names.

The climax was reached when a most offensive policeman in a dictatorial manner ordered me to 'Move on.'

Her directness had made all possible 'buts' seem ridiculous and futile, and had made the expression of curiosity seem offensive.