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

And as the report shows, the company went through exorbitant lengths to save face, from calling in political favors, to going on charm offenses. Amanda Sakuma, Vox, "Facebook reportedly used anti-Semitic attacks to discredit its critics," 15 Nov. 2018 The police said the man, whose record included cannabis use, theft and driving offenses, was shot in the chest. Mike Cherney, WSJ, "Melbourne Attacker Was Inspired by ISIS, Police Say," 9 Nov. 2018 In a 485-page decision, Judge Kaplan rebuked Mr. Donziger for engaging in judicial bribery, coercion, witness tampering and hiring of an American consulting firm to ghostwrite an expert’s reports, among other offenses against legal ethics. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "Steven Donziger Gets His Due," 13 July 2018 The Brewers have forged the best record in the National League to this point of the season not because of their offense but in spite of it. Tom Haudricourt, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Haudricourt: Brewers looking to go big with Manny Machado, who is an absolutely perfect fit," 13 July 2018 Tillman, who spent much of his final two seasons at Grand Rapids Christian playing atop the key and orchestrating its offense, might become MSU’s best passing post player since Derrick Nix. Chris Solari, Detroit Free Press, "Can Michigan State's Xavier Tillman, Nick Ward stay on floor together?," 12 July 2018 Even without Jackson, Louisville’s offense against Syracuse’s defense still looks like a mismatch. Jake Lourim, The Courier-Journal, "Why Louisville football can (and can’t) beat Syracuse," 11 July 2018 But the commission, led by Chairman Bob Gualtieri, the sheriff of Pinellas County, said the district’s handling of his offense appeared irrelevant to what happened later. David Fleshler, Sun-Sentinel.com, "Stoneman Douglas shooting commission: PROMISE program flawed but not relevant to massacre," 10 July 2018 The Cubs couldn’t create much offense against Reds right-hander Tyler Mahle and Contreras failed to capitalize against the bullpen. Bobby Nightengale, Cincinnati.com, "Tyler Mahle pitches well again, Raisel Iglesias holds off Cubs in Cincinnati Reds win," 6 July 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

19 Nov 2018

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

by force of circumstances

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Difficult Vocab Quiz

  • the-education-of-achilles-eugne-delacroix
  • Which is a synonym of discomfit?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Bee Cubed

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!