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

Women wept openly and a young man hurled an expletive at Hicks after watching the video, which was shown on a large pull-down screen and on two flat-screen televisions. CBS News, "Four years later, North Carolina man pleads guilty to killing 3 Muslim students," 12 June 2019 De Niro had been tapped to introduce a performance by Bruce Springsteen at the Tony Awards on Sunday, and the vocal Trump critic used his moment onstage to hurl a certain expletive at the president that CBS had to bleep out from its telecast. Tracy Brown, latimes.com, "President Trump calls out 'punch-drunk' Robert De Niro for Tony Awards comment," 13 June 2018 At the Tony awards, De Niro launched an expletive at Trump and pumped his arms for emphasis. Rob Gilles, chicagotribune.com, "Robert De Niro apologizes to Canada for 'idiotic behavior' of Donald Trump," 11 June 2018 When Guerrero left the store, Fenderson followed him, yelling expletives, according to city lawyers. Luke Broadwater, baltimoresun.com, "Baltimore to pay $50,000 to man allegedly injured by police officer's 'hip throw'," 1 May 2018 Lawrence, a first-year player, will likely be fined for the expletive by the end of the week. Mary Kay Cabot, cleveland.com, "Devaroe Lawrence likely to be fined for dropping an f-bomb on an NFL official in Browns’ 43-13 loss to Titans," 9 Sep. 2019 Within 10 minutes, the motorcade was speeding through blocked-off streets during a most unusual rush hour, passing protesters shouting expletives and people holding up their phones. Jean Marbella, baltimoresun.com, "Cheers inside, jeers outside as Trump makes quick visit to Baltimore for GOP retreat," 13 Sep. 2019 In recent weeks, O’Rourke — fired up with anger over an August mass shooting that took 22 lives in his hometown — has again let the expletives fly. Gilbert Garcia, ExpressNews.com, "Authenticity is a complicated issue in 2020 presidential race," 7 Sep. 2019 Later that day, according to multiple reports, Brown initiated a confrontation at practice with Mayock that included a series of expletives. Michael Middlehurst-schwartz, USA TODAY, "Antonio Brown avoids suspension as Raiders plan to play receiver in opening game," 5 Sep. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Del Rey will release her next album, whose expletive-laden title riffs on American painter Norman Rockwell, on Aug. 30. Los Angeles Times, "Lana Del Rey yearns for an America ‘without the gun’ in new song about mass shootings," 6 Aug. 2019 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

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

16 Oct 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

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to be made up of

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