ex·​ple·​tive | \ ˈek-splə-tiv How to pronounce expletive (audio) \

Definition of expletive

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : a syllable, word, or phrase inserted to fill a vacancy (as in a sentence or a metrical line) without adding to the sense especially : a word (such as it in "make it clear which you prefer") that occupies the position of the subject or object of a verb in normal English word order and anticipates a subsequent word or phrase that supplies the needed meaningful content
b : an exclamatory word or phrase especially : one that is obscene or profane
2 : one that serves to fill out or as a filling



Definition of expletive (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : serving to fill up expletive phrases
2 : marked by the use of expletives

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Examples of expletive in a Sentence


Angry expletives filled the air. Expletives were deleted from the transcript of their conversation.

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

After committing one of his three turnovers in the fourth quarter, Evans shouted an expletive to himself. Mark Medina, The Mercury News, "Warriors’ Jacob Evans: ‘Last year was disappointing for me’," 2 July 2019 Officers drew guns and shouted expletives during their arrest, according to video shot by a bystander and released by police last week. NBC News, "Phoenix man feared family was about to be 'executed' by police over stolen doll," 17 June 2019 On its landing page, ThisAV.com displayed an expletive-laden message addressed to Hong Kong officials and pro-Beijing lawmakers expressing the site’s opposition to the extradition law with the help of multiple references to genitals. Isabella Steger, Quartz, "Even porn sites are joining in Hong Kong’s fight against a hated extradition law," 11 June 2019 Then, the expletives started pouring out of Elisabeth's mouth. Kayla Keegan, Good Housekeeping, "‘The View’ Fans Shocked at EXPLOSIVE Audio of Elisabeth Hasselbeck After a Feud With Barbara Walters," 5 Apr. 2019 The two women then get into an expletive-laden argument. Caitlin O'kane, CBS News, "Woman's racist tirade against Asian nail salon owner caught on video," 13 June 2018 The mother of two ended her response with an expletive to solidify her stance. Selena Barrientos, Good Housekeeping, "Pink Stuns Followers With the Perfect Response to Instagram Trolls," 8 Mar. 2019 The caller was then allegedly pistol-whipped – with the gun going off as a result -- after calling Washburn an expletive, the man told the Indianapolis Star. Greg Norman, Fox News, "Indiana man reportedly pistol whips friend of 50 years in dispute over Bruno Mars song," 24 Sep. 2018 The film opens with children barely older than kindergartners sitting at a balcony railing and spitting onto a car before getting caught and launching into a raucous round of expletives. Mary Shanklin, OrlandoSentinel.com, "'Florida Project' film portrays life in Kissimmee hotels," 15 Oct. 2017

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

In a 45-minute, expletive-laced rant on his SiriusXM radio show Monday night, Howard Stern railed against embattled CBS chairman and CEO Leslie Moonves, accusing the powerful executive of trying to ruin his life. Gerren Keith Gaynor, Fox News, "Howard Stern says CBS' Leslie Moonves 'tried to ruin my life'," 7 Aug. 2018 Detectives later found an expletive spray-painted on the closet door. Crimesider Staff, CBS News, "Police: Teen found shot dead in abandoned house died during "Russian roulette"," 14 June 2018 In the footage, an officer is heard using expletive terms with the suspect. Brieanna J Frank, azcentral, "Two Mesa officers put on leave as police investigate another use-of-force incident," 7 June 2018 In front of three other referees, Barone said, the coach used a graphic, expletive-laced anti-gay slur. Written By Jason Buckland ; Photographs By Marta Iwanek, New York Times, "A Gay Referee Tries to Find His Place in Hockey," 23 Apr. 2018 County Attorney's Office records said that Hammelton responded to the officer's demands with expletive terms. Chris Mccrory, azcentral, "Flagstaff police officers won't be charged in fatal shooting of 78-year-old," 17 May 2018 Campbell, who is an assistant coach at Miami Edison High but previously coached at Central, Northwestern, Norland and Jackson, replied with a few expletive-laced tweets on Wednesday. David Furones, Sun-Sentinel.com, "Jonathan Vilma, Luther Campbell engage in Twitter feud over Miami Hurricanes," 19 Apr. 2018 Wylie has colorfully describes himself as the gay Canadian vegan who somehow ended up creating Steve Bannon's psychological warfare mind expletive tool. NBC News, "Meet the Press - April 8, 2018," 8 Apr. 2018 The Liverpool Echo reported that a 23-year-old British woman and her three female traveling companions were removed from flight EZY1975 for her intoxicated, expletive-laden tirade at 30,000 feet, as evidenced in video footage. Janine Puhak, Fox News, "Women kicked off EasyJet flight following vulgar midair rant," 28 Mar. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'expletive.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of expletive


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for expletive


Late Latin expletivus, from Latin expletus, past participle of explēre to fill out, from ex- + plēre to fill — more at full

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Statistics for expletive

Last Updated

10 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for expletive

The first known use of expletive was in the 15th century

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More Definitions for expletive



English Language Learners Definition of expletive

: a word or phrase (such as "Damn it!") that people sometimes say when they are angry or in pain especially : one that is offensive

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Comments on expletive

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


something desired as essential

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