ob·​nox·​ious | \äb-ˈnäk-shəs, əb-\

Definition of obnoxious 

1 archaic : exposed to something unpleasant or harmful used with to

2 archaic : deserving of censure

3 : odiously or disgustingly objectionable : highly offensive

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Other Words from obnoxious

obnoxiously adverb
obnoxiousness noun

The Lost Meaning of Obnoxious

Obnoxious in its oldest sense means “exposed to something unpleasant or harmful.” This meaning is etymologically accurate: obnoxious is derived ultimately from the Latin ob- “exposed to” and noxa “harm.” It has been entirely superseded, however, by the sense “extremely offensive.” Though this sense is by no means new, having been first recorded more than 300 years ago, some commentators in the late 19th and early 20th centuries were displeased about its ascendancy over the etymological meaning. Ambrose Bierce, the author of the satirical Devil’s Dictionary, wrote in his 1909 book Write It Right: “Obnoxious means exposed to evil. A soldier in battle is obnoxious to danger.” Despite these admonitions, obnoxious is nowadays widely used to describe bothersome, rather than perilous, things, and no one questions its correctness.

Examples of obnoxious in a Sentence

Let's get right into it. The title of your book, Why We Suck, is pretty obnoxious. Are we really that bad? — Rachel Deahl, Boston Globe, 30 Nov. 2008 "Not to sound obnoxious, but this downturn could be good for us," says Max Levchin, founder and CEO of Slide, in San Francisco. "Some of our competitors are going to go out of business." — Daniel Lyons, Newsweek, 20 Oct. 2008 Now that many large cities are surrounded by Stygian fields of concrete tedium, urban sprawl looks like an obnoxious side effect of prosperity and decline. — Graham Robb, The Discovery of France, 2007 The teller's eyes widened as a customer poured thousands of pennies onto the counter, an intentionally obnoxious way to pay a high heating bill. — Erik Eckholm, New York Times, 26 June 2006 He said some really obnoxious things about his ex-girlfriend at the party. Some teenagers were being loud and obnoxious.
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Recent Examples on the Web

After a very obnoxious retrograde cycle, Venus (the planet that governs love and beauty), finally goes direct on Friday, November 16. Aliza Kelly Faragher, Allure, "What November's Gemini Horoscope Means for You," 28 Oct. 2018 Your ‘chili pepper’ rating of our ‘hotness’ is obnoxious and utterly irrelevant to our teaching. Alfred Lubrano, Philly.com, "After complaints, Ratemyprofessors.com does away with its 'hotness' ratings," 11 July 2018 If there was ever a time for a corporate sponsor to toot its own horn without seeming obnoxious and greed-motivated, this would be it. Shannon Ryan, chicagotribune.com, "Pregnant LPGA star Stacy Lewis' contract with KPMG should set a new standard," 27 June 2018 Checking a bag is an undeniably obnoxious and increasingly expensive endeavor. Kara Ladd, Popular Mechanics, "Upgrade Your Travel Gear With These New Bags From Genius Pack," 15 May 2018 The film finds tension when Simon’s e-mails are discovered by Martin, an obnoxious kid at school, who’s infatuated with Simon’s close friend Abby (Alexandra Shipp). Meredith Goldstein, BostonGlobe.com, "‘Love, Simon’ says a lot, and it’s all good," 15 Mar. 2018 So why do companies (and criminals) still cling to such an obnoxious method? Kim Komando, Fox News, "Stop robocalls, free TV, anonymous browsing and more: Tech Q&A," 7 July 2018 Your 'chili pepper' rating of our 'hotness' is obnoxious and utterly irrelevant to our teaching. Suzannah Weiss, Teen Vogue, "RateMyProfessors Removes Hotness Rating," 29 June 2018 Instead of feeling an obnoxious jolt right away, matcha will release energy gradually, says Max Fortgang, co-founder of MatchaBar in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Kayla Keegan, Redbook, "7 Reasons You Need More Matcha in Your Life," 27 Mar. 2015

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'obnoxious.' 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 obnoxious

1597, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for obnoxious

Latin obnoxius, from ob in the way of, exposed to + noxa harm — more at noxious

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Statistics for obnoxious

Last Updated

17 Nov 2018

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Time Traveler for obnoxious

The first known use of obnoxious was in 1597

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More Definitions for obnoxious



English Language Learners Definition of obnoxious

: unpleasant in a way that makes people feel offended, annoyed, or disgusted


ob·​nox·​ious | \äb-ˈnäk-shəs, əb-\

Kids Definition of obnoxious

: very disagreeable : hateful Judd had heard the obnoxious whine of the motorcycle every day.— Margo Sorenson, Firewatch

Other Words from obnoxious

obnoxiously adverb

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