adjective of·fi·cious \ə-ˈfi-shəs\

Definition of officious

  1. 1 archaic a :  kind, obligingb :  dutiful

  2. 2 :  volunteering one's services where they are neither asked nor needed :  meddlesome officious people who are always ready to offer unasked advice

  3. 3 :  informal, unofficial officious conversations between foreign ministers





officious was our Word of the Day on 11/19/2014. Hear the podcast!

Examples of officious in a sentence

  1. an officious little man who was always telling everyone else how to do their jobs

Did You Know?

Don't mistake "officious" for a rare synonym of "official." Both words stem from the Latin noun officium (meaning "service" or "office"), but they have very different meanings. When the suffix -osus ("full of") was added to "officium," Latin officiosus came into being, meaning "eager to serve, help, or perform a duty." When this adjective was borrowed into English in the 16th century as "officious," it carried the same meaning. Early in the 17th century, however, "officious" began taking on a negative sense to describe a person who offers unwanted help. This pejorative sense has driven out the original "eager to help" sense to become the predominant meaning of the word in Modern English. "Officious" can also mean "of an informal or unauthorized nature," but that sense isn't especially common.

Origin and Etymology of officious

Latin officiosus, from officium service, office

First Known Use: 15th century

Synonym Discussion of 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.

OFFICIOUS Defined for English Language Learners


adjective of·fi·cious \ə-ˈfi-shəs\

Definition of officious for English Language Learners

  • —used to describe an annoying person who tries to tell other people what to do in a way that is not wanted or needed

Seen and Heard

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


to criticize severely

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