9 Grammatical Pitfalls


[uh-fen-siv or for 4, 5, aw-fen-, of-en-] /əˈfɛn sɪv or for 4, 5, ˈɔ fɛn-, ˈɒf ɛn-/
causing resentful displeasure; highly irritating, angering, or annoying:
offensive television commercials.
unpleasant or disagreeable to the sense:
an offensive odor.
repugnant to the moral sense, good taste, or the like; insulting:
an offensive remark; an offensive joke.
pertaining to offense or attack:
the offensive movements of their troops.
characterized by attack; aggressive:
offensive warfare.
the position or attitude of aggression or attack:
to take the offensive.
an aggressive movement or attack:
a carefully planned naval offensive.
Origin of offensive
1540-50; < Medieval Latin offēnsīvus, equivalent to Latin offēns(us) past participle of offendere (see offend) + -īvus -ive
Related forms
offensively, adverb
offensiveness, noun
nonoffensive, adjective
nonoffensively, adverb
nonoffensiveness, noun
overoffensive, adjective
overoffensively, adverb
overoffensiveness, noun
preoffensive, adjective
preoffensively, adverb
preoffensiveness, noun
quasi-offensive, adjective
quasi-offensively, adverb
superoffensive, adjective, noun
superoffensively, adverb
superoffensiveness, noun
unoffensive, adjective
unoffensively, adverb
unoffensiveness, noun
1. displeasing, vexatious, vexing, unpleasant. See hateful. 2, 3. distasteful, disgusting, revolting, repellent. 3. repulsive, shocking. 4. invading, attacking.
1, 2. pleasing. 4. defensive.
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 used to indicate that those people who use the offensive term do so to offend intentionally. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for offensive
  • Instead, his name crops up whenever a baseline of offensive futility is needed.
  • Students set up another free speech wall, this time taping over any language that could be deemed offensive.
  • To offset all this, the industry needs a charm offensive.
  • Not many people can talk about so many risque issues with humor and without being offensive.
  • But if you have a risotto hankering and not much time, take the offensive.
  • It's time to correct your offensive fonts and graphics.
  • Most of the offensive value is produced by a small core.
  • Some of these statements can be offensive to the faculty or students who view them.
  • Even offensive speech in a private setting, evidently.
  • The city has a miasmic, sweetly offensive odor impregnable to the monsoon or to the daily industrial pollution.
British Dictionary definitions for offensive


unpleasant or disgusting, as to the senses
causing anger or annoyance; insulting
for the purpose of attack rather than defence
the offensive, an attitude or position of aggression
an assault, attack, or military initiative, esp a strategic one
Derived Forms
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
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Word Origin and History for offensive

"attacking" (1540s), "insulting" (1570s), both from Middle French offensif (16c.) and directly from Medieval Latin offensivus, from Latin offens-, past participle stem of offendere "offend" (see offend). Related: Offensively; offensiveness.


"condition of attacking, aggressive action," 1720, from offensive (adj.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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