of·​fend | \ ə-ˈfend How to pronounce offend (audio) \
offended; offending; offends

Definition of offend

intransitive verb

1a : to transgress (see transgress sense transitive 1) the moral or divine law : sin if it be a sin to covet honor, I am the most offending soul alive— William Shakespeare
b : to violate a law or rule : do wrong offend against the law
2a : to cause difficulty, discomfort, or injury took off his shoe and removed the offending pebble
b : to cause dislike, anger, or vexation thoughtless words that offend needlessly

transitive verb

1a : violate, transgress a contract not offending a statute … might still be in restraint of trade— C. A. Cooke
b : to cause pain to : hurt tasteless billboards that offend the eye
2 obsolete : to cause to sin or fall
3 : to cause (a person or group) to feel hurt, angry, or upset by something said or done was offended by their language She carefully worded her comments so as not to offend anyone.

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Other Words from offend

offender noun

Choose the Right Synonym for offend

offend, outrage, affront, insult mean to cause hurt feelings or deep resentment. offend need not imply an intentional hurting but it may indicate merely a violation of the victim's sense of what is proper or fitting. hoped that my remarks had not offended her outrage implies offending beyond endurance and calling forth extreme feelings. outraged by their accusations affront implies treating with deliberate rudeness or contemptuous indifference to courtesy. deeply affronted by his callousness insult suggests deliberately causing humiliation, hurt pride, or shame. insulted every guest at the party

Examples of offend in a Sentence

His comments about minority groups offended many of us. She had carefully worded her comments so as not to offend anyone. It offends me that you would make such a remark. Don't worry. I wasn't offended. I felt a little offended by their lack of respect. Some people are offended by the song's lyrics. I'm sorry, I didn't mean to offend you. I'm sorry, I didn't mean to offend.
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Recent Examples on the Web Courts do not want to offend state prosecutors by acquitting people. The Economist, "Justice in China is notoriously harsh, but reforms are afoot," 31 Oct. 2019 Wouldn’t want to offend those who support the Chinese dictatorship. Los Angeles Times, "Letters: Readers have the answers, even if Dodgers didn’t," 11 Oct. 2019 Teachers may not want to offend the parent by denying the request, so do not put them in an awkward position. Christen A. Johnson,, "Go ahead and look up your kid’s teacher on social media — just tread carefully," 23 Aug. 2019 Here’s the truth: A group of staff members mutually agreed to develop an internal resource for people who don’t want to unintentionally offend someone in the workplace. Tony Frank, The Denver Post, "Tony Frank: If that viral CSU language-police story seemed too dumb to be true — that’s because it was," 2 Aug. 2019 President Trump isn't going out of his way to offend people, according to New York Rep. Peter King. Madison Dibble, Washington Examiner, "'Never seen malice in him': House Republican says Trump 'genuinely surprised' when he offends people," 4 May 2020 Steer clear of difficulty by spending wisely and being careful not to offend anyone. oregonlive, "Horoscope for May 4, 2020: Aries, new romance may flounder; Virgo, catch up on reading," 4 May 2020 The other problem is that publications are afraid to offend advertisers, who tend not to want their ad for diamonds to be facing a page about indigent women with cancer. Jia Tolentino, The New Yorker, "Barbara Ehrenreich Is Not an Optimist, but She Has Hope for the Future," 21 Mar. 2020 In both instances, just as the #nnevvy trolls were unable to conceive of anyone not being offended by having their government mocked, the limits of political imagination had been constrained by censorship and propaganda. James Griffiths, CNN, "A Chinese troll campaign exposes a potentially dangerous disconnect with the wider world," 14 Apr. 2020

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

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

History and Etymology for offend

Middle English offenden "to assail, violate, displease, hurt the feelings of," borrowed from Anglo-French & Latin; Anglo-French offendre, borrowed from Latin offendere "to strike against, stumble (upon), trouble, break a rule, displease, annoy," from of-, assimilated variant of ob- ob- + -fendere presumably, "to strike, hit" (unattested without prefixes) — more at defend

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Time Traveler for offend

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for offend

Last Updated

2 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Offend.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Jun. 2020.

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More Definitions for offend


How to pronounce offend (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of offend

: to cause (a person or group) to feel hurt, angry, or upset by something said or done
: to be unpleasant to (someone or something)
formal : to do wrong : to be against what people believe is acceptable or proper


of·​fend | \ ə-ˈfend How to pronounce offend (audio) \
offended; offending

Kids Definition of offend

1 : to hurt the feelings of or insult She uses language that offends people.
2 : to do wrong Is the released prisoner likely to offend again?
of·​fend | \ ə-ˈfend How to pronounce offend (audio) \

Legal Definition of offend

: to commit an offense

Other Words from offend

offender noun

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More from Merriam-Webster on offend

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for offend

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with offend

Spanish Central: Translation of offend

Nglish: Translation of offend for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of offend for Arabic Speakers

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