of·fend | \ ə-ˈfend \
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

Add Sarah Palin to the list of people offended by comedian Sacha Baron Cohen’s style of humor. NBC News, "Sarah Palin accuses Sacha Baron Cohen of duping her for Showtime series," 11 July 2018 The two words women were most offended by in advertising? Ben Wofford, Glamour, "The NRA's Most Wanted Customer: Women," 28 June 2018 The ideas conveyed by the sign could have caused students including Barnes to be offended, threatened or uncomfortable, the lawsuit said. Everton Bailey Jr.,, "Hillsboro student sues district over right to wear pro-border wall shirt," 21 May 2018 When the Italian-born, Jewish artist’s nudes were unveiled at a Paris gallery, police demanded that it be shut down, offended by the unflinching strokes of his oil brush that thrust art’s nude figure into the modern era. Verena Dobnik, USA TODAY, "Modigliani painting fetches $157 million at Manhattan auction," 14 May 2018 That’s plainly not the case in light of the text of the article; rather, what happened was that some people were offended by the column, and BI responded by yanking it. Jesse Singal, Daily Intelligencer, "Business Insider Retracted a Bad Piece — and Set a Terrible Precedent," 11 July 2018 The actress worried that a thirtysomething female viewer would be offended. Carly Mallenbaum, USA TODAY, "How 'GLOW' set is a 'feminist bio-dome' while exploring themes of sexism in Season 2," 28 June 2018 People are reluctant to offer unasked help because people can get offended. Angela Chen, The Verge, "A social psychologist explains why we should ask for help more often," 22 June 2018 Trying to figure out in advance what’s going to offend someone is a mug’s game. Mary Carole Mccauley,, "For author Michael Chabon, fatherhood is his driving passion," 15 June 2018

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 ob- ob- + -fendere presumably, "to strike, hit" (unattested without prefixes) — more at defend

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Learn More about offend

Dictionary Entries near offend






offend the eye


Phrases Related to offend

offend the eye

repeat offender

young offender

Statistics for offend

Last Updated

9 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for offend

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

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More Definitions for offend



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)

: to do wrong : to be against what people believe is acceptable or proper


of·fend | \ ə-ˈfend \
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 \

Legal Definition of offend 

: to commit an offense

Other words from offend

offender noun

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Comments on offend

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


alleviating pain or harshness

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