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

Mr Ellison would unleash his indignant and ingenious fury on anyone who offended him, relishing every opportunity to rage at reactionaries and Republicans. The Economist, "Harlan Ellison died on June 27th," 5 July 2018 In fact, similar relics were so common on eBay as of 2016 that some offended Catholics launched a petition to prevent their sale, since selling bone, hair and other bits and pieces of humans, whether saints or sinners, is against the site’s policy. Jason Daley, Smithsonian, "No, the Bone of Saint Clement Was Probably Not Just Found in London’s Trash," 4 May 2018 Towards the end of her message, Gigi directly apologized to everyone who was offended and spoke out about the lack of representation in the fashion industry. Victoria Rodriguez, Seventeen, "Gigi Hadid Apologizes Following Blackface Allegations For Her "Vogue Italia" Cover," 4 May 2018 Whether the three lawmakers win or lose, Abbott will head into the next session as a governor who will not only veto a lawmaker’s bills but kill a lawmaker’s political career — or at least try to — if he is offended. Peggy Fikac, San Antonio Express-News, "Abbott takes a risk in targeting fellow Republicans," 18 Feb. 2018 Not too long ago, the idea of getting moved to wide receiver would offend Jackson to the point of him refusing to run the 40-yard dash at the NFL scouting combine. Katherine Fominykh,, "After mentoring Michael Vick, new Ravens quarterbacks coach James Urban getting Lamar Jackson up to speed," 13 July 2018 Carla, who owns Nebo Cucina & Enoteca with her sister, Christine, said her brother didn’t mean to offend or upset anyone. Mark Shanahan,, "Jim Pallotta’s soccer celebration spills over ... into a fountain in Rome," 11 Apr. 2018 My April Fools prank was in now way meant to offend women who struggle with that. Garrett Mitchell, azcentral, "'Bachelor' fans fire back at Arie Luyendyk Jr. for April Fools' Day pregnancy joke," 2 Apr. 2018 Ours were fun and playful — they were never meant to offend anyone., "Henry Holland, Those T-Shirts, & What Happened Next," 13 Mar. 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

7 Oct 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

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lying above or upon

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