noun of·fense \ə-ˈfen(t)s, especially for sense 3 ˈä-ˌfen(t)s, ˈȯ-\
variants: or



Definition of offense

  1. 1a obsolete :  an act of stumblingb archaic :  a cause or occasion of sin :  stumbling block

  2. 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.

  3. 3a :  the act of attacking :  assault weapons of offenseb :  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

  4. 4a :  the act of displeasing or affronting no offense intended and none taken, I hopeb :  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

  5. 5a :  a breach of a moral or social code :  sin, misdeed was tolerant of his youthful offensesb :  an infraction of law was stopped by the police for a traffic offense; especially :  misdemeanor had a record of petty offenses


play \ə-ˈfen(t)s-ləs, especially for sense 3 ˈä-ˌfen(t)s-, ˈȯ-\ adjective

Examples of offense in a sentence

  1. He was found guilty and fined $250 for each offense.

  2. Penalties for a first offense range from fines to jail time.

  3. Our team has the best offense in the league.

  4. The quarterback directs the offense.

  5. The team needs some work on its offense.

  6. The team plays good offense.

Origin and Etymology of offense

Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Latin offensa, from feminine of offensus, past participle of offendere

First Known Use: 14th century

Synonym Discussion of 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.

OFFENSE Defined for English Language Learners


noun of·fense \ə-ˈfen(t)s, especially for sense 3 ˈä-ˌfen(t)s, ˈȯ-\

Definition of offense for English Language Learners

  • : something that causes a person to be hurt, angry, or upset

  • : something that is wrong or improper

  • : a criminal act

OFFENSE Defined for Kids


noun of·fense \ə-ˈfens\
variants: or



Definition of offense for Students

  1. 1 :  something done that hurts feelings or insults

  2. 2 :  wrongdoing, sin

  3. 3 :  the act of hurting feelings or insulting

  4. 4 :  a team or the part of a team that attempts to score in a game

  5. 5 :  an act of attacking :  assault

Law Dictionary


noun of·fense \ə-ˈfens\
variants: or


\ə-ˈfens\ play

Legal Definition of offense

  1. 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. 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

Additional Notes on offense

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.

Seen and Heard

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


a brief usually trivial fact

Get Word of the Day daily email!


Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!

Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.