ob·​lo·​quy ˈä-blə-kwē How to pronounce obloquy (audio)
plural obloquies
: a strongly condemnatory utterance : abusive language
held to their convictions in the face of obloquy
: the condition of one that is discredited : bad repute
living out his days in the obloquy of one who had betrayed a solemn trust

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English speakers can choose from several synonyms to name a tongue-lashing. Abuse is a good general term that usually stresses the anger of the speaker and the harshness of the language, as in "scathing verbal abuse." Vituperation often specifies fluent, sustained abuse; "a torrent of vituperation" is a typical use of this term. Invective implies vehemence comparable to vituperation but may suggest greater verbal and rhetorical skill; it may also apply especially to a public denunciation, as in "blistering political invective." Obloquy, which comes from the Late Latin ob- (meaning "against") plus loquī (meaning "to speak"), suggests defamation and consequent shame and disgrace; a typical example of its use is "subjected to obloquy and derision."

Choose the Right Synonym for obloquy

abuse, vituperation, invective, obloquy, billingsgate mean vehemently expressed condemnation or disapproval.

abuse, the most general term, usually implies the anger of the speaker and stresses the harshness of the language.

scathing verbal abuse

vituperation implies fluent and sustained abuse.

a torrent of vituperation

invective implies a comparable vehemence but suggests greater verbal and rhetorical skill and may apply to a public denunciation.

blistering political invective

obloquy suggests defamation and consequent shame and disgrace.

subjected to obloquy and derision

billingsgate implies practiced fluency and variety of profane or obscene abuse.

directed a stream of billingsgate at the cabdriver

Examples of obloquy in a Sentence

a victim of hatred and obloquy unable to mount a rational defense of her position, she unleashed a torrent of obloquy on her opponent
Recent Examples on the Web Future problems Paxton’s ability to brush aside opprobrium and obloquy in Texas politics is nearly unrivaled. Lauren McGaughy, Dallas News, 18 Sep. 2023 That’s a shame, because the airline’s 11 outside directors are arguably the guiltiest of the guilty parties in the company’s recent fiasco, the most deserving of obloquy. Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times, 3 Jan. 2023 It’s the guy in front of the bench, though, who’s taking the brunt of the obloquy for the way that whole mess ended. Gordon Monson, The Salt Lake Tribune, 3 July 2021 This kind of bitter obloquy can be found in the editorial pages of many global publications. Annabelle Timsit, Quartz, 29 Apr. 2021 The only freedom and independence are in learning to be equally indifferent to both praise and obloquy. Kevin D. Williamson, National Review, 27 Aug. 2019 Years later, Adams wrote that his decision ‘procured me anxiety, and obloquy …. James Hohmann, Washington Post, 8 June 2018 The cross-dressing women were not often the target of obloquy or mockery. Longreads, 8 May 2018

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'obloquy.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English obloquie, obloqui, borrowed from Anglo-French & Late Latin; Anglo-French obloquie, borrowed from Late Latin obloquium, from obloquī "to speak against, blame" (going back to Latin, "to break in on, interrupt," from ob- "against" + loquī "to speak") + Latin -ium, deverbal suffix of function or state — more at eloquent

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of obloquy was in the 15th century


Dictionary Entries Near obloquy

Cite this Entry

“Obloquy.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/obloquy. Accessed 27 May. 2024.

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