offense

noun
of·​fense | \ ə-ˈfen(t)s How to pronounce offense (audio) , especially for sense 3 ˈä-ˌfen(t)s, ˈȯ- How to pronounce offense (audio) \
variants: or offence

Definition of offense

1a obsolete : an act of stumbling
b archaic : a cause or occasion of sin : stumbling block
2 : something that outrages the moral or physical senses His conduct is an offense to public decency. Such screaming is an offense to my ears.
3a : the act of attacking : assault weapons of offense
b : the means or method of attacking or of attempting to score The quarterback's passing success was the team's edge in offense.
c : the offensive team or members of a team playing offensive positions The stronger offense won the game.
d : scoring ability
4a : the act of displeasing or affronting no offense intended and none taken, I hope
b : the state of being insulted or morally outraged takes offense at the slightest criticism we ought not … to give offense by sexist words or phrases— J. J. Kilpatrick
5a : a breach of a moral or social code : sin, misdeed was tolerant of his youthful offenses
b : an infraction of law was stopped by the police for a traffic offense especially : misdemeanor had a record of petty offenses

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Other Words from offense

offenseless \ ə-​ˈfen(t)s-​ləs How to pronounce offenseless (audio) , especially for sense 3  ˈä-​ˌfen(t)s-​ , ˈȯ-​ \ adjective

Choose the Right Synonym for offense

offense, resentment, umbrage, pique, dudgeon, huff mean an emotional response to or an emotional state resulting from a slight or indignity. offense implies hurt displeasure. takes deep offense at racial slurs resentment suggests lasting indignation or ill will. harbored a lifelong resentment of his brother umbrage may suggest hurt pride, resentment, or suspicion of another's motives. took umbrage at the offer of advice pique applies to a transient feeling of wounded vanity. in a pique I foolishly declined the invitation dudgeon suggests an angry fit of indignation. stormed out of the meeting in high dudgeon huff implies a peevish short-lived spell of anger usually at a petty cause. in a huff he slammed the door

offense, sin, vice, crime, scandal mean a transgression of law. offense applies to the infraction of any law, rule, or code. at that school no offense went unpunished sin implies an offense against moral or religious law. the sin of blasphemy vice applies to a habit or practice that degrades or corrupts. regarded gambling as a vice crime implies a serious offense punishable by the law of the state. the crime of murder scandal applies to an offense that outrages the public conscience. a career ruined by a sex scandal

Examples of offense in a Sentence

He was found guilty and fined $250 for each offense. Penalties for a first offense range from fines to jail time. Our team has the best offense in the league. The quarterback directs the offense. The team needs some work on its offense. The team plays good offense.
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Recent Examples on the Web

The Run Destroyer of Flushing suppresses offense in ways that... Jared Diamond, WSJ, "Even the Mets’ Home Stadium Is Mocking Them," 3 Apr. 2019 Hansjoerg Bacher, a spokesman for Graz prosecutors, said prosecutors had stumbled across the donation as part of an existing probe against Sellner into possible financial offenses. Frank Jordans, The Seattle Times, "Austrian far-right activist probed over ties to NZ suspect," 26 Mar. 2019 In general, precum doesn’t seem to transport top-notch sperm (no offense to the little wrigglers that wind up in this fluid). Kasandra Brabaw, SELF, "Can You Get Pregnant From Precum?," 7 Mar. 2019 The report cited a range of other human-rights issues in Saudi Arabia, including executions for nonviolent offenses, forced renditions and disappearances, torture of prisoners and a lack of civil and religious rights. ... Courtney Mcbride, WSJ, "State Department Rights Report Blames Saudis in Death of Khashoggi," 13 Mar. 2019 Police cited the sisters for underage alcohol offenses at a Mexican restaurant in 2001, and that same year Jenna was also seen drinking beer at an Austin nightclub. Meagan Flynn, The Seattle Times, "‘No part of her life should be anyone’s clickbait’: Tabloid’s Malia Obama report draws rebukes on social media," 19 Feb. 2019 But every year, many kids aren’t so lucky, and are arrested for minor first-time offenses. Peter Rezk, Teen Vogue, "America’s Criminal Justice System Is Failing Young People Like Me. Clean Slate Laws Are the Answer," 14 Dec. 2018 Sessions has also supported tougher sentences for low-level drug offenses at a time when many are directly linking marijuana prosecution to the problem of mass incarceration. Angela Chen, The Verge, "Marijuana advocates celebrate after Jeff Sessions is ousted," 8 Nov. 2018 Most of the inmates at Gwinnett are black or brown, and a striking number of them on-screen have been arrested for seemingly minor offenses—like marijuana possession, for which white Americans almost never go to jail. Taylor Antrim, Vogue, "Which Documentary Should You Stream Next? You’ve Got Options," 12 Sep. 2018

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

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for offense

Middle English offence, offense "assault, breach of law, causing of displeasure," borrowed from Anglo-French offense, borrowed from Latin offensa "encounter with an obstacle, injury, wrong," noun derivative from feminine of offensus, past participle of offendere "to strike against, break a rule, displease" — more at offend

Note: The English senses "act of stumbling, stumbling block" are dependent on the Biblical passage "a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense" (Isaiah 8:14, 1 Peter 2:8 in the Authorized/King James Version), itself dependent on the literal sense "stumble upon" of Latin offendere and its derivatives (cf. Vulgate "lapis offensionis et petra scandali").

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Statistics for offense

Last Updated

9 Apr 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for offense

The first known use of offense was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for offense

offense

noun

English Language Learners Definition of offense

: something that causes a person to be hurt, angry, or upset
: something that is wrong or improper
: a criminal act

offense

noun
of·​fense
variants: or offence \ ə-​ˈfens \

Kids Definition of offense

1 : something done that hurts feelings or insults
3 : the act of hurting feelings or insulting
4 : a team or the part of a team that attempts to score in a game
5 : an act of attacking : assault

offense

noun
of·​fense
variants: or offence \ ə-​ˈfens How to pronounce offence (audio) \

Legal Definition of offense

1 : a violation of the law especially : a criminal act nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy U.S. Constitution amend. V — see also lesser included offense
2 in the civil law of Louisiana : an intentional unlawful act that causes damage to another and for which the law imposes an obligation for damages — compare quasi contract at contract, quasi-offense

Note: Breach of contract, offenses, quasi-offenses, and quasi contracts are the bases for civil liability under Louisiana civil law. Offenses and quasi-offenses are comparable to common-law torts.

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Comments on offense

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