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 But, that was the one criticism that really kind of offended me. Brian Davids, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Star Wars' Actor Greg Grunberg Pours Cold Water on 'Rise of Skywalker' Director's Cut," 20 Mar. 2020 Scarcely believable, probably. Crosstrek Guy appreciated none of this, and while his cluelessness offended me on the 959's behalf, the über-Porsche's cloak of normalcy remains its genius. Ezra Dyer, Car and Driver, "Porsche's 959 Accurately Predicted the Future," 17 Mar. 2020 The students weren’t the only ones who were offended. Jon Haworth, ABC News, "College recruiter fired for lining students up by skin color, 'nappiest hair'," 1 Mar. 2020 Justice Gorsuch wrote separately to say that the case should have been dismissed outright, because being offended by the sight of the cross on public land wasn’t an injury courts should recognize. Jess Bravin, WSJ, "Supreme Court Rules That 40-Foot Cross Can Remain on Public Land," 20 June 2019 The name offends no one and can be recycled if other coronaviruses jump from animals to humans in the years ahead. Martin Enserink, Science | AAAS, "‘A bit chaotic.’ Christening of new coronavirus and its disease name create confusion," 12 Feb. 2020 If the sight of nude dolls offends you, go ahead and close this story. Nancy Clanton, ajc, "Barbie has her own ‘adults only’ beach near Atlanta," 28 Jan. 2020 Both flavors do have a slight crunchiness that did not offend my taste buds. Jeremy Hallock, Dallas News, "Oak Cliff family launches new Cricket Salsa brand that’s packed with protein," 22 Jan. 2020 The diluted standard asserted here would permanently weaken the presidency and forever alter the balance among the branches of government in a manner that offends the constitutional design established by the founders. Maggie Haberman,, "McConnell unveils rules for Trump impeachment trial," 20 Jan. 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

24 Mar 2020

Cite this Entry

“Offend.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 31 Mar. 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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