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

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 Giuliani, 78, told the publication the man called him an expletive during the contact. Dennis Romero, NBC News, 27 June 2022 James’s longtime friend and business partner Maverick Carter said that TD Garden is one of the only NBA arenas in which fans wear shirts that include James’s name with an expletive. Globe Staff, BostonGlobe.com, 16 July 2022 After Randle fell to the ground, the officer uttered an expletive. From Usa Today Network And Wire Reports, USA TODAY, 25 May 2022 Sacha Baumann, who publishes the L.A. arts broadsheet Full Blede, posted Kruger’s image with an accompanying expletive. Los Angeles Times, 3 May 2022 Trump reportedly asked an aide to text the group's president, David McIntosh, an expletive after the group aired another anti-Vance ad last week. Haley Bemiller, The Enquirer, 27 Apr. 2022 Later, as Obama’s vice president, Biden was captured on a microphone whispering an expletive to Obama at the bill signing for the landmark health care law. Tyler Pager And Matt Viser, Anchorage Daily News, 27 Mar. 2022 An arrest record from the Broward County Sheriff's Office shows that a deputy responded to a call of a naked man by a school, at which point McDowell allegedly stood up from a curb and spoke an expletive. NBC News, 18 Jan. 2022 After referring to the Russian army with an expletive, Tinkov turned his attention towards criticizing the Russian government directly. Tristan Bove, Fortune, 20 Apr. 2022 See More

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.

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

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Last Updated

13 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Expletive.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/expletive. Accessed 17 Aug. 2022.

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More from Merriam-Webster on expletive

Nglish: Translation of expletive for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of expletive for Arabic Speakers


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