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af·​front ə-ˈfrənt How to pronounce affront (audio)
affronted; affronting; affronts

transitive verb

: to insult especially to the face by behavior or language
He was affronted by her rudeness.
: to cause offense to
laws that affront society
: to face in defiance : confront
affront death
obsolete : to encounter face-to-face
: to appear directly before


2 of 2


: a deliberate offense : insult
an affront to his dignity
obsolete : a hostile encounter

Did you know?

The Middle English "afronten," the ancestor of the Modern English verb "affront," was borrowed from the Anglo-French afrunter, a verb which means "to defy" but which also has the specific meaning "to strike on the forehead" or "to slap on the face." These more literal senses reveal the word's Latin origins, a combination of the Latin prefix ad-, meaning "to" or "towards," and "front-, frons," which means "forehead" (and which is also the source of the English word front). While the striking or slapping sense of "afrunter" was not adopted by English, it is alluded to in the oldest uses of "afronten" in Middle English in the sense of "to insult especially to the face."

Choose the Right Synonym for affront

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

Examples of affront in a Sentence

Verb did not mean to affront you when I told you I didn't need your help Noun He regarded her rude behavior as a personal affront. took it as an affront that she wasn't asked to help cook Thanksgiving dinner
Recent Examples on the Web
Perhaps their punishment will deter others who might similarly endeavor to overthrow a free and fairly conducted election, affronting the country’s values and assaulting our democracy with their deceit. Mark Z. Barabak, Los Angeles Times, 31 Mar. 2024 Spearing his eggs Benedict with salmon, the silver-bearded star appears almost affronted when asked. Andrea Mandell, Peoplemag, 1 Oct. 2023 Few scholars were more affronted by the turn their discipline was taking than Uri Simonsohn and Joseph Simmons, who were then at the University of Pennsylvania, and Leif Nelson of the University of California, Berkeley. Noam Scheiber, New York Times, 30 Sep. 2023 Even though my children started school in mid-August, I felt somewhat affronted by the aisles of pencils, binders, and notebooks staring at me during prime pool season. Melissa Willets, Parents, 19 Sep. 2023 There was a point, midway through the first half, when City’s passing started to affront the crowd’s dignity: What had started as whistling turned, slowly but surely, into jeers. Rory Smith, New York Times, 9 May 2023 Its product refuses to entertain while its meta events such as the Oscars affront those who are naïve enough to beg it for escapism. Armond White, National Review, 28 Apr. 2021 Life itself, then, could affront and ridicule and even torment the provocateur: the mocker brutally mocked by personal reality. New York Times, 1 Apr. 2021 Other customers show up without masks, occasionally reacting belligerently or as if personally affronted when asked to put on a mask or practice social distancing. Anchorage Daily News, 2 June 2020
Ringo interpreted that domestic act as a personal affront and a violent intrusion. David Frum, The Atlantic, 21 Mar. 2024 And any laws or court rulings limiting the influence of religion in schools and government — such as the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1962 and 1963 decisions banning mandatory public school prayer and Bible readings — are an affront to America’s true founding. Mike Hixenbaugh, NBC News, 23 Feb. 2024 This false victim-aggressor dichotomy frames Israel as a colonial oppressor, a gross distortion that not only undermines the truth but also emboldens terrorists like Hamas and their allies and is an affront to the historical legitimacy of Israel and the Jewish people’s right to exist. Russell Schwartz, Orange County Register, 8 Feb. 2024 Part of the reason why was because of the affront to what Robinson represented. Jackie Robinson, USA TODAY, 3 Feb. 2024 While this might seem like just a bunch of legal paperwork, doing so would be an affront to crypto industry insiders and idealists, and throw into question the status of thousands of cryptocurrencies. Forbes Daily, Forbes, 1 Mar. 2024 The Hamas Covenant is an affront to religious freedom and human rights. The San Diego Union-Tribune Staff, San Diego Union-Tribune, 20 Feb. 2024 To add Syria, another of Iraq’s chief adversaries, to the mix and threaten them all with punishment for 9/11—a terrorist attack perpetrated by Saudi, Emirati, Lebanese, and Egyptian members of al Qaeda, the Sunni extremist group—was even more of an affront. Toby Matthiesen, Foreign Affairs, 9 Feb. 2024 Gun rights supporters, who see many of the Democrats’ proposals as affronts to the Second Amendment, are emboldened by a 2022 U.S. Supreme Court decision that set a higher legal bar for gun restrictions. Seth Klamann, The Mercury News, 4 Feb. 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'affront.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



Middle English afronten, afrounten, borrowed from Anglo-French afrunter "to strike the front of, shame," derivative from the phrase a frunt "facing, openly, blatantly," from a "to, at" (going back to Latin ad) + frunt "front entry 1, forehead" — more at at entry 1


borrowed from Middle French, noun derivative of affronter "to affront entry 1"

First Known Use


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1533, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Time Traveler
The first known use of affront was in the 14th century


Dictionary Entries Near affront

Cite this Entry

“Affront.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 verb
af·​front ə-ˈfrənt How to pronounce affront (audio)
: to insult openly : offend


2 of 2 noun
: a deliberately insulting or disrespectful act or utterance

More from Merriam-Webster on affront

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