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[ri-puhl-siv] /rɪˈpʌl sɪv/
causing repugnance or aversion:
a repulsive mask.
capable of causing repulsion; serving to repulse:
to present enough repulsive force to keep the enemy from daring to attack.
tending to drive away or keep at a distance; cold; forbidding:
arrogant, repulsive airs to frighten the timid.
Physics. of the nature of or characterized by physical repulsion.
Origin of repulsive
1590-1600; repulse + -ive
Related forms
repulsively, adverb
repulsiveness, noun
self-repulsive, adjective
unrepulsive, adjective
unrepulsively, adverb
unrepulsiveness, noun
Can be confused
repellent, repulsive.
1. loathsome, disgusting, offensive, distasteful. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for repulsive
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Emilie went up cordially to Miss Webster, and was not prepared for the repulsive reception with which she met.

    Emilie the Peacemaker Mrs. Thomas Geldart
  • He was repulsive; he was stealthy, hard, cruel, in appearance.

    The First Violin Jessie Fothergill
  • The last phase of the movement he had followed since May 6th, 1789, was too repulsive.

    Talleyrand Joseph McCabe
  • It had grown to be repulsive, and he knew not how to fill the void in his life.

  • The intrusion of the abnormal side of Viola's life seemed at the moment not merely inopportune but repulsive.

    The Tyranny of the Dark Hamlin Garland
British Dictionary definitions for repulsive


causing or occasioning repugnance; loathsome; disgusting or distasteful: a repulsive sight
tending to repel, esp by coldness and discourtesy
(physics) concerned with, producing, or being a repulsion
Derived Forms
repulsively, adverb
repulsiveness, 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 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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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