American English

Definition of offensive adjective from the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary



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  1. 1rude in a way that causes you to feel upset, insulted, or annoyed offensive remarks The program contains language which some viewers may find offensive. offensive to somebody His comments were deeply offensive to a large number of single mothers. opposite inoffensive
  2. 2(formal) extremely unpleasant synonym obnoxious an offensive smell Thesaurusdisgustingfoul revolting repulsive offensive grossThese words all describe something, especially a smell, taste, or habit, that is extremely unpleasant and often makes you feel slightly ill.disgusting extremely unpleasant and making you feel slightly ill:What a disgusting smell!foul dirty, and tasting or smelling bad:She could smell his foul breath.revolting extremely unpleasant and making you feel slightly ill:The stew looked revolting.disgusting or revolting?Both of these words are used to describe things that smell and taste unpleasant, and unpleasant personal habits and people who have them. There is no real difference in meaning, but disgusting is more frequent, especially in spoken English.repulsive (somewhat formal) extremely unpleasant in a way that offends you or makes you feel slightly ill Repulsive usually describes people, their behavior, or their habits, that you may find offensive for physical or moral reasons.offensive (formal) (especially of smells) extremely unpleasant.gross (informal) (of a smell, taste, or personal habit) extremely unpleasant.Patterns disgusting/revolting/repulsive/offensive to somebody to find somebody/something disgusting/revolting/repulsive/offensive to smell/taste disgusting/foul/revolting/gross a(n) disgusting/foul/revolting/offensive/gross smell/odor a disgusting/foul/revolting/repulsive/gross habit disgusting/repulsive/offensive/gross behavior a disgusting/revolting/repulsive man/woman/person
  3. 3[only before noun] connected with the act of attacking someone or something an offensive war offensive action He was charged with carrying an offensive weapon. compare defensive
  4. 4(sport) connected with the team that has control of the ball; connected with the act of scoring points offensive play compare defensive
  5. offensively
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    adverb He later apologized for speaking offensively about the president. The team needs to be encouraged to play more offensively.
  7. offensiveness
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    noun [uncountable]
See the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary entry: offensive