[ uh-fen-siv or, for 4, 5, aw-fen-, of-en- ]
See synonyms for: offensiveoffensivelyoffensiveness on

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

  2. unpleasant or disagreeable to the sense: an offensive odor.

  1. repugnant to the moral sense, good taste, or the like; insulting: an offensive remark; an offensive joke.

  2. pertaining to offense or attack: the offensive movements of their troops.

  3. 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.

Origin of offensive

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

synonym study For offensive

1. See hateful.

usage note For offensive

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.

Other words for offensive

Opposites for offensive

Other words from offensive

  • 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 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use offensive in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for offensive


/ (əˈfɛnsɪv) /

  1. unpleasant or disgusting, as to the senses

  2. causing anger or annoyance; insulting

  1. 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

Derived forms of offensive

  • 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