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

Noun Angry expletives filled the air. Expletives were deleted from the transcript of their conversation.
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun In the video, the teacher is heard using an expletive for being called privileged. Washington Post, 3 May 2021 Green Bay Packers head coach Matt LaFleur popularized it in Wisconsin in 2019 with an emphatic expletive worked in for flavor. Jim Owczarski, USA TODAY, 29 May 2021 Green Bay Packers head coach Matt LaFleur popularized it in Wisconsin in 2019 with an emphatic expletive worked in for flavor. Jim Owczarski, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 29 May 2021 According to the suit, Gurske used an expletive to describe her reputation. oregonlive, 28 May 2021 The suit said the coach called the older youth an expletive. John Caniglia, cleveland, 25 May 2021 After the newspaper declined, the call ended with the reporter hanging up as Stryk repeated the expletive over and over. Alexandria Bordas, Cynthia Dizikes, San Francisco Chronicle, 16 May 2021 Whitmer, however, only mouthed the expletive for comedic effect. Frank Witsil, Detroit Free Press, 14 May 2021 Her father, who’d become a zealous Fox News watcher, brushed off her concerns with a colorful expletive, insisting on running errands on his own. Los Angeles Times, 30 Apr. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective On Friday night, Nets guard Kyrie Irving was booed, jeered, and showered with expletive-laced chants. BostonGlobe.com, 31 May 2021 In expletive-laden remarks to Talking Points Memo, lawyer Albert Watkins pointed to their mental abilities, using a pejorative for people with intellectual disabilities. Washington Post, 19 May 2021 The case involves a former teenage cheerleader in the Mahanoy Area School District who was given a year suspension from the squad in 2017 after a coach learned of an expletive-laden Snapchat message posted to teammates online over a weekend. Devin Dwyer, ABC News, 28 Apr. 2021 But when the song came on, the savage beast turned into a (expletive) kitten. Troy L. Smith, cleveland, 18 Apr. 2021 Then one, apparently not realizing the audio was still live, used an expletive and the epithet as the Norman players kneeled. Ken Miller, Star Tribune, 12 Mar. 2021 No video of the cop coming out crying, ‘I (expletive) up. Sara M Moniuszko, USA TODAY, 11 Aug. 2020 That minor expletive three paragraphs up is as adult as the series gets in its first three episodes. Scott D. Pierce, The Salt Lake Tribune, 25 Mar. 2021 The violator then responded with an expletive-laden statement indicating his guilt. Jay R. Jordan, Chron, 19 Mar. 2021

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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Time Traveler for expletive

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for expletive

Last Updated

14 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Expletive.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/expletive. Accessed 14 Jun. 2021.

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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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