or of·fence

[uh-fens or for 7–9, aw-fens, of-ens]
  1. a violation or breaking of a social or moral rule; transgression; sin.
  2. a transgression of the law; misdemeanor.
  3. a cause of transgression or wrong.
  4. something that offends or displeases.
  5. the act of offending or displeasing.
  6. the feeling of resentful displeasure caused: to give offense.
  7. the act of attacking; attack or assault: weapons of offense.
  8. a person, army, etc., that is attacking.
  9. Sports.
    1. the players or team unit responsible for attacking or scoring in a game.
    2. the players possessing or controlling the ball, puck, etc., or the aspects or period of a game when this obtains.
    3. a pattern or style of scoring attack: single-wing offense; fast-break offense.
    4. offensive effectiveness; ability to score: a total breakdown in offense.
  10. Archaic. injury, harm, or hurt.

Origin of offense

1325–75; Middle English offence, offense; in part < Middle French offens < Latin offēnsus collision, knock, equivalent to offend(ere) (see offend) + -tus suffix of v. action; in part < Middle French offenseLatin offēnsa, feminine past participle of offendere
Related formsself-of·fense, noun

Synonyms for offense

1, 2. trespass, felony, fault. 6. umbrage, resentment, wrath, indignation. 7. aggression. 8. besiegers, attackers, enemy, foe.

Synonym study

1, 2. See crime.

Antonyms for offense Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Word Origin and History for self-offense



late 14c., "hurt, harm, injury, pain," from Old French ofense "offense, insult, wrong" (13c.) and directly from Latin offensa "an offense, injury, affront, crime," literally "a striking against," noun use of fem. past participle of offendere (see offend). Meaning "action of attacking" and "feeling of being hurt" are both first recorded c.1400. Sense of "breach of the law, transgression" is first recorded late 14c. Sporting sense first recorded 1894.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with self-offense


see no offense; take offense.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.