ob·​nox·​ious | \ äb-ˈnäk-shəs How to pronounce obnoxious (audio) , 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 It has been entirely superseded, however, by the sense “extremely offensive.”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

Earlier this year, Logan Paul stirred widespread controversy after filming a dead body in Japan, while his brother Jake Paul, who fought in the undercard, became infamous for being obnoxious. Patricia Hernandez, The Verge, "More people watched the Logan Paul vs KSI fight on Twitch than on YouTube," 25 Aug. 2018 Within the last decade or so, some of those more obnoxious supercars have followed Porsche's lead in becoming more user-friendly. Alexander George, Popular Mechanics, "Why Does Everyone Love the Porsche 911?," 21 Dec. 2018 Even a luxury condominium doesn’t have to be obnoxious. Charles Curkin, ELLE Decor, "60 Seconds with...Mariam Kamara," 22 Jan. 2019 Its voice is obnoxious, anxious, whiny, whimpery and often frustratingly unintelligible. Adi Robertson, The Verge, "Furby hell: this week in tech, 20 years ago," 24 Nov. 2018 People who score high on the dark triad typically engage in behaviors that most people would find obnoxious or immoral. Glenn Geher, WSJ, "The Dark Triad and the Evolution of Jerks," 6 Dec. 2018 Johnson said the viaduct’s traffic noise makes for a loud and obnoxious soundtrack. Seattle Sketcher Gabriel Campanario, The Seattle Times, "Our views along the Seattle waterfront will never be the same," 29 Aug. 2018 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

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 "under obligation, subservient, liable, exposed to, vulnerable" (of uncertain origin) + -ous

Note: Latin obnoxius has traditionally been taken to be a parasynthetic derivative from the phrase ob noxiam "due to wrongdoing, on account of bad behavior" (see noxious), but this explanation does not account for the primary senses of the word. Ernout and Meillet (Dictionnaire étymologique de la langue latine) take -noxius as a desiderative derivative from the base of nancīscī "to acquire" (see enough entry 1), parallel to anxius "worried"/angere "to strangle, distress" (see anxious), alsius "liable to injury from cold"/algēre "to be cold." The English sense "objectionable" is probably due to influence of noxious and its etymon, Latin noxius.

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Last Updated

24 Feb 2019

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Time Traveler for obnoxious

The first known use of obnoxious was in 1597

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English Language Learners Definition of obnoxious

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


ob·​nox·​ious | \ äb-ˈnäk-shəs How to pronounce obnoxious (audio) , 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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Comments on obnoxious

What made you want to look up obnoxious? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


of or relating to a parable or parabola

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