offense

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

Definition of offense

1a obsolete : an act of stumbling
b archaic : a cause or occasion of sin : stumbling block
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.
3a : the act of attacking : assault weapons of offense
b : 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
4a : the act of displeasing or affronting no offense intended and none taken, I hope
b : 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
5a : a breach of a moral or social code : sin, misdeed was tolerant of his youthful offenses
b : an infraction of law was stopped by the police for a traffic offense especially : misdemeanor had a record of petty offenses

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from offense

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

Choose the Right Synonym for 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

Examples of offense in a Sentence

He was found guilty and fined $250 for each offense. Penalties for a first offense range from fines to jail time. Our team has the best offense in the league. The quarterback directs the offense. The team needs some work on its offense. The team plays good offense.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

After serving two months in jail for a misdemeanor offense, he was rejected by multiple employers before landing his current job as a program director at the Children Arts and Science Workshops Inc. Zolan Kanno-youngs, WSJ, "‘I Thought I Was Done For’: Tight Job Market Opens Doors for Ex-Convicts," 19 Dec. 2018 Under the proposal, the FTC would also be allowed to fine companies up to 4 percent of revenue for a first offense. Colin Lecher, The Verge, "Sen. Ron Wyden proposes bill that could jail executives who mishandle consumer data," 1 Nov. 2018 In May, West’s wife, reality TV star and entrepreneur Kim Kardashian West, met with Trump to discuss prison reform and pardoning Alice Marie Johnson, a 63-year-old black woman serving life in federal prison for a first-time drug offense. P.r. Lockhart, Vox, "Kanye West will meet with Trump at the White House to talk prison reform, violence in Chicago," 9 Oct. 2018 Baylor’s offense accumulated just 68 yards in the second half, but the defense picked up the slack and scored on a 40-yard fumble recovery. Theo Lawson, The Seattle Times, "Five memorable Washington State football games against Big 12 Conference teams," 25 Dec. 2018 The bill would also exclude certain inmates from earning credits, such as undocumented immigrants and people who are convicted of high-level offenses. German Lopez, Vox, "The Senate just passed criminal justice reform," 19 Dec. 2018 The defendants are charged with wire fraud, money laundering, aggravated identity theft, and conspiracy to commit computer intrusion, among other offenses. Adi Robertson, The Verge, "Eight people charged with running a multimillion-dollar online ad scam," 27 Nov. 2018 As an athlete who has never called for on-court coaching or used dishonest measures to win, Williams took offense. Candice Benbow, Glamour, "At the U.S. Open, Serena Williams Demanded the Apology All Black Women Deserve," 10 Sep. 2018 And in the face of such strife, defense is your best offense, says Watkins. Lauren Valenti, Vogue, "How to Meditate on Planes, Trains, and Automobiles," 6 Dec. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'offense.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of offense

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

History and Etymology for offense

Middle English offence, offense "assault, breach of law, causing of displeasure," borrowed from Anglo-French offense, borrowed from Latin offensa "encounter with an obstacle, injury, wrong," noun derivative from feminine of offensus, past participle of offendere "to strike against, break a rule, displease" — more at offend

Note: The English senses "act of stumbling, stumbling block" are dependent on the Biblical passage "a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense" (Isaiah 8:14, 1 Peter 2:8 in the Authorized/King James Version), itself dependent on the literal sense "stumble upon" of Latin offendere and its derivatives (cf. Vulgate "lapis offensionis et petra scandali").

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about offense

Statistics for offense

Last Updated

15 Jan 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for offense

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for offense

offense

noun

English Language Learners Definition of offense

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

: something that is wrong or improper

: a criminal act

offense

noun
of·​fense
variants: or offence \ ə-​ˈfens \

Kids Definition of offense

1 : something done that hurts feelings or insults
3 : the act of hurting feelings or insulting
4 : a team or the part of a team that attempts to score in a game
5 : an act of attacking : assault

offense

noun
of·​fense
variants: or offence \ ə-​ˈfens \

Legal Definition of offense

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 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

Note: 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.

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on offense

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

WORD OF THE DAY

means, resources, or money

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Homophone Quiz

  • three-bears-two-of-them-look-like-theyre-whispering-to-a-third-bear-who-looks-chuffed-to-be-the-center-of-attention
  • In order to judge how people felt, the senator's office hired a firm to take a ______.
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

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

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!