of·​fi·​cious ə-ˈfi-shəs How to pronounce officious (audio)
: volunteering one's services where they are neither asked nor needed : meddlesome
officious people who are always ready to offer unasked advice
: informal, unofficial
officious conversations between foreign ministers
officiously adverb
officiousness noun

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We Are Eager to Help You Define Officious

If you’ve ever dreamed of having your financial officer officiate your office wedding—well, you’re officially alone there. But we won’t meddle in your business; if we suggested a more, um, “charming” location, we’d be sticking our nose where it doesn’t belong. We have our own offic word for such behavior: officious. As with some key words in your hypothetical dream wedding, officious comes from the Latin noun officium, meaning “service” or “office.” In its early use, officious meant “eager to serve, help, or perform a duty,” but that meaning is now obsolete, and the word today typically describes a person who offers unwanted advice or help. Since, again, we don’t want to be such a person, we definitely won’t suggest marrying at a banquet hall or botanical garden in lieu of the office, but we do applaud any consideration of that office-fave for your celebratory sweet, the humble sheet cake.

Choose the Right Synonym for officious

impertinent, officious, meddlesome, intrusive, obtrusive mean given to thrusting oneself into the affairs of others.

impertinent implies exceeding the bounds of propriety in showing interest or curiosity or in offering advice.

resented their impertinent interference

officious implies the offering of services or attentions that are unwelcome or annoying.

officious friends made the job harder

meddlesome stresses an annoying and usually prying interference in others' affairs.

a meddlesome landlord

intrusive implies a tactless or otherwise objectionable thrusting into others' affairs.

tried to be helpful without being intrusive

obtrusive stresses improper or offensive conspicuousness of interfering actions.

expressed an obtrusive concern for his safety

Examples of officious in a Sentence

an officious little man who was always telling everyone else how to do their jobs
Recent Examples on the Web There’s something officious about Alden Ehrenreich. Owen Gleiberman, Variety, 21 Jan. 2023 Her charming luxury treasure trove has none of that officious chilliness that defines the typical store of its ilk but instead feels like a brocanterie crammed with interesting, unexpected luxury goods from across the world. Mark Ellwood, Robb Report, 2 Jan. 2023 Most figures of authority, including police officers, the military, and disease control workers, typically appear officious, apathetic and lacking in empathy. Jeremy Hsu, Discover Magazine, 30 June 2015 Cronenberg, in turn, has maintained a cool contempt for officious pundits and their agendas. Adam Nayman, The New Yorker, 3 June 2022 As her avenging brother, Laertes, the tenor David Butt Philip is ardent; as her officious father, Polonius, the tenor William Burden avoids caricature. New York Times, 15 May 2022 There's an officious young secretary, Ms. McCormack (Laurie Veldheer), to keep reminding him of that, but the thrust and parry of the fast-dancing dialogue is between Sam (huffy, preoccupied) and Karen (tizzying, agitated, eager to please). Leah Greenblatt,, 1 Apr. 2022 The soul of this community is local queen bee Sherry Conrad (Search Party alum Shalita Grant, the season’s MVP), an officious, controlling momfluencer with a knack for stealing the spotlight. Judy Berman, Time, 17 Oct. 2021 At his side is the officious Bev Keane (a chilling Samantha Sloyan, from Hill House), the prototypical timeless, ageless, practically bloodless church lady, dressed like an overgrown Girl Scout and always judging, scolding, guilting. Judy Berman, Time, 20 Sep. 2021 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'officious.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Latin officiosus, from officium service, office

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 3b

Time Traveler
The first known use of officious was in the 15th century


Dictionary Entries Near officious

Cite this Entry

“Officious.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition


of·​fi·​cious ə-ˈfish-əs How to pronounce officious (audio)
: volunteering one's services where they are not asked for or needed
officiously adverb
officiousness noun

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