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[in-uh-fen-siv] /ˌɪn əˈfɛn sɪv/
causing no harm, trouble, or annoyance:
a mild, inoffensive man.
not objectionable, as to the senses:
an inoffensive odor.
Origin of inoffensive
1590-1600; in-3 + offensive
Related forms
inoffensively, adverb
inoffensiveness, noun
1. harmless, innocuous, unoffending. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for inoffensive
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • She was a quiet, inoffensive, worthy woman; and his friends induced him after a while to allow her to return to his house.

    Cornish Characters S. Baring-Gould
  • He appeared a pleasing, inoffensive, well-bred young fellow.

    One Of Them Charles James Lever
  • They are inoffensive because they are happy, and they are happy without knowing why: they are fulfilling the law.

  • Mr. Chase was an inoffensive man, but Mrs. Chase had a violent temper.

    The Cash Boy Horatio Alger Jr.
  • These inoffensive words caught the ear of the tough man from the East, who was pushing his way to the car platform.

    My Native Land James Cox
  • Now, across the court, in the kitchen opposite, were two inoffensive beings.

    The Paliser case Edgar Saltus
  • To an Englishman these historical landmarks are inoffensive.

    American Sketches Charles Whibley
British Dictionary definitions for inoffensive


not giving offence; unobjectionable
not unpleasant, poisonous, or harmful
Derived Forms
inoffensively, adverb
inoffensiveness, 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
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Word Origin and History for inoffensive

1590s, from in- (1) "not, opposite of" + offensive. Related: Inoffensively; inoffensiveness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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