Definition of offensive adjective from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary



    BrE BrE//əˈfensɪv//
    ; NAmE NAmE//əˈfensɪv//
    Describing unpleasant traits
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  1. 1  rude in a way that causes you to feel upset, insulted or annoyed offensive remarks The programme 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 See related entries: Describing unpleasant traits
  2. 2(formal) extremely unpleasant synonym obnoxious an offensive smell Synonymsdisgustingfoul 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, 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 (rather formal) extremely unpleasant in a way that offends you or makes you feel slightly ill. Repulsive usually describes people, their behaviour or habits, which 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/​repulsive/​offensive to somebody to find somebody/​something disgusting/​revolting/​repulsive/​offensive to smell/​taste disgusting/​foul/​gross a(n) disgusting/​foul/​revolting/​offensive/​gross smell a disgusting/​revolting/​gross habit disgusting/​offensive/​gross behaviour a disgusting/​revolting/​repulsive man/​woman/​person
  3. 3[only before noun] connected with the act of attacking somebody/something an offensive war offensive action He was charged with carrying an offensive weapon. compare defensive
  4. 4(North American English, sport) connected with the team that has control of the ball; connected with the act of scoring points offensive play compare defensive
  5. Word Originmid 16th cent.: from French offensif, -ive or medieval Latin offensivus, from Latin offens- ‘struck against’, from the verb offendere ‘strike against’.Extra examples The material is patently offensive as measured by the standards for the broadcast medium. This sort of attitude is very offensive to black people. I’ve had enough of her offensive remarks. The problem is how to eliminate offensive smells from the processing plant. This job is stressful enough even without clients being offensive.
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: offensive