Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Medical
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary


verb of·fend \ə-ˈfend\

Simple Definition of offend

  • : to cause (a person or group) to feel hurt, angry, or upset by something said or done

  • : to be unpleasant to (someone or something)

  • : to do wrong : to be against what people believe is acceptable or proper

Full Definition of offend

  1. intransitive verb
  2. 1 a :  to transgress the moral or divine law :  sin <if it be a sin to covet honor, I am the most offending soul alive — Shakespeare> b :  to violate a law or rule :  do wrong <offend against the law>

  3. 2 a :  to cause difficulty, discomfort, or injury <took off his shoe and removed the offending pebble> b :  to cause dislike, anger, or vexation <thoughtless words that offend needlessly>

  4. transitive verb
  5. 1 a :  violate, transgress b :  to cause pain to :  hurt

  6. 2 obsolete :  to cause to sin or fall

  7. 3 :  to cause to feel vexation or resentment usually by violation of what is proper or fitting <was offended by their language>

of·fend·er noun

Examples of offend

  1. His comments about minority groups offended many of us.

  2. She had carefully worded her comments so as not to offend anyone.

  3. It offends me that you would make such a remark.

  4. Don't worry. I wasn't offended.

  5. I felt a little offended by their lack of respect.

  6. Some people are offended by the song's lyrics.

  7. I'm sorry, I didn't mean to offend you.

  8. I'm sorry, I didn't mean to offend.

Origin of offend

Middle English, from Anglo-French offendre, from Latin offendere to strike against, offend, from ob- against + -fendere to strike — more at ob-, defend

First Known Use: 14th century

Synonym Discussion of offend

offend, outrage, affront, insult mean to cause hurt feelings or deep resentment. offend need not imply an intentional hurting but it may indicate merely a violation of the victim's sense of what is proper or fitting <hoped that my remarks had not offended her>. outrage implies offending beyond endurance and calling forth extreme feelings <outraged by their accusations>. affront implies treating with deliberate rudeness or contemptuous indifference to courtesy <deeply affronted by his callousness>. insult suggests deliberately causing humiliation, hurt pride, or shame <insulted every guest at the party>.

OFFENDER Defined for Kids


noun of·fend·er \ə-ˈfen-dər\

Definition of offender

  1. :  a person who does wrong

Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up offend? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


February 9, 2016

marked by high spirits and laughter

Get Word of the Day daily email!


Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!


Which of the following refers to thin, bending ice, or to the act of running over such ice?

duvet spindrift pince-nez kittly-benders
Name That Thing

10 quick questions: hear them, spell them, and see how your skills compare to the crowd.


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.