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See more synonyms for repulsive on Thesaurus.com
  1. causing repugnance or aversion: a repulsive mask.
  2. capable of causing repulsion; serving to repulse: to present enough repulsive force to keep the enemy from daring to attack.
  3. tending to drive away or keep at a distance; cold; forbidding: arrogant, repulsive airs to frighten the timid.
  4. Physics. of the nature of or characterized by physical repulsion.
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Origin of repulsive

First recorded in 1590–1600; repulse + -ive
Related formsre·pul·sive·ly, adverbre·pul·sive·ness, nounself-re·pul·sive, adjectiveun·re·pul·sive, adjectiveun·re·pul·sive·ly, adverbun·re·pul·sive·ness, noun
Can be confusedrepellent repulsive


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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for repulsive


  1. causing or occasioning repugnance; loathsome; disgusting or distastefula repulsive sight
  2. tending to repel, esp by coldness and discourtesy
  3. physics concerned with, producing, or being a repulsion
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Derived Formsrepulsively, adverbrepulsiveness, 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

Word Origin and History for repulsive


early 15c., "able to repel," from Middle French repulsif (14c.) and directly from Medieval Latin repulsivus, from repuls-, past participle stem of repellere (see repel). The sense of "causing disgust" is first recorded 1816. Related: Repulsively; repulsiveness.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper