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 Hawley got a boost when Adrian Wojnarowski, ESPN’s famed NBA reporter, responded to his letter to Silver with an expletive. Nancy Armour, USA TODAY, "Opinion: Senators critical of WNBA, NBA social justice efforts should stick to politics," 10 July 2020 Well, clearly every single person that is over the age of 20 has not figured this (expletive deleted) out. Margot Armbruster, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "'Don't let the cynics get to you': poets laureate Rozga, Kelly Hamilton talk about living in a turbulent time," 2 July 2020 In Hyde Park on Wednesday, many protestors expressed disgust with U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s record on race, chanting an expletive followed by his first name. Jeremy Kahn, Fortune, "Europe’s reaction to George Floyd’s death highlights racism at home as well as in the U.S.," 3 June 2020 The protests have been deemed unpatriotic by critics, including president Donald Trump, who used an expletive to describe players who took a knee during the national anthem during a 2017 speech. Tom Schad, USA TODAY, "Kenny Stills, Eric Reid criticize NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell's statement on George Floyd's death," 1 June 2020 Individuals are flooding New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s social distancing tip line with expletive-laden messages, many of which criticize him for his handling of the coronavirus outbreak. Andrew Mark Miller, Washington Examiner, "New York City social distancing tip line flooded with angry, vulgar messages criticizing de Blasio's virus response," 21 Apr. 2020 Ricky Gervais, hosting the NBC-telecast ceremony for the fifth time, began the evening with an expletive-laden plea against hypocrisy, telling winners to stick to thanking their agent and their god. Dallas News, "‘1917,’ ‘Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood’ win Golden Globes," 5 Jan. 2020 The 51 soft looks, centering on optical stripes and decorative embroideries, were shown to a contrasting thumping soundtrack, peppered with expletives. San Diego Union-Tribune, "McCartney presents eco-manifesto at Paris Fashion Week show," 30 Sep. 2019 The Guns N’ Roses frontman, a vocal critic of President Trump, threw the first punch Wednesday, tweeting his disgust for the current administration by calling Mnuchin an expletive that won’t be repeated here. Los Angeles Times, "Axl Rose called Steven Mnuchin an expletive on Twitter, sparking 2020’s weirdest feud," 7 May 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective His craziness is inspiring us to just really get him the (expletive) out! Jenna Ryu, USA TODAY, "Keke Palmer talks Trump, 'powerful' protest moment: 'I felt so united with everybody'," 8 July 2020 The vandal spray-painted the phrase at the front and on a side of the home, along with an expletive and two caricatures. Tatiana Sanchez, SFChronicle.com, "Oakland home of Black family defaced with ‘all lives matter,’ other graffiti," 28 June 2020 If y'all sat it our (expletive) shoes for one day, one day. Jim Ayello, The Indianapolis Star, "Colts star Darius Leonard says he was racially profiled, kicked out of a Chipotle," 25 June 2020 What follows is an expletive-laden song criticizing police tactics that is performed over images from protests across the nation. Gary Dinges, USA TODAY, "New protest songs from YG, Terrace Martin arrive as classics from N.W.A., 2Pac rise on streaming," 2 June 2020 Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot was recorded during a heated and expletive-ridden exchange with a city alderman while addressing protests that turned violent after George Floyd’s death. Emma Colton, Washington Examiner, "Chicago mayor and alderman exchange profanities over concerns about looters in leaked audio," 9 June 2020 Whitehead made several threatening and expletive-laden posts on Twitter while still in uniform following Cleveland’s fourth straight loss. Tom Withers, The Denver Post, "Jermaine Whitehead cut by Cleveland Browns after disturbing social media rant," 4 Nov. 2019 The sequel wildly ups the ante for meta, self-referential humor, with Deadpool tossing out playful (and often expletive-filled) quips about fellow Marvel superheroes including Wolverine, Black Widow and Black Panther. Patrick Ryan, USA TODAY, "'Deadpool 2': Ryan Reynolds on wooing Celine Dion, poking fun at 'Frozen'," 16 May 2018 His often violent and expletive-filled rants about Baskin were not only broadcast on his web TV show, but also in the documentary. Houston Chronicle, "Florida sheriff seeking tips in 'Tiger King' mystery," 31 Mar. 2020

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

31 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Expletive.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/expletive. Accessed 12 Aug. 2020.

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More Definitions for expletive


How to pronounce expletive (audio)

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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