of·​fi·​cious | \ ə-ˈfi-shəs How to pronounce officious (audio) \

Definition of officious

1 : volunteering one's services where they are neither asked nor needed : meddlesome officious people who are always ready to offer unasked advice
2 : informal, unofficial officious conversations between foreign ministers
3 archaic

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Other Words from officious

officiously adverb
officiousness noun

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

We Are Eager to Help You Define Officious

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.

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 These are correctional facilities that now bear the official and officious titles Moral Rehabilitation Facility, Reeducation Center, Home for the Rectification of Delinquent Youths. Jean Genet, Harper's magazine, "Minor Threats," 6 Jan. 2020 Domhnall Gleeson is off in his own mad farce as officious snarlfart General Hux, who gets the best line in the film. Darren Franich,, "Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker," 18 Dec. 2019 This production simply turned him into a jerky, power-hungry, #MeToo-type white guy, and Cangelosi went to town playing up the character’s officious buffoonery, singing strongly all the while. Anne Midgette, Washington Post, "Maurice Sendak’s ‘Magic Flute’ brings storybook flair — and familiarity — to WNO," 3 Nov. 2019 Showerman is the least effective actor in the bunch, affecting a stentorian voice and officious manner that come across as parodic. Donna Freedman, Anchorage Daily News, "Review: From screen to stage, ‘Little Mermaid’ expands on a beloved tale," 23 Oct. 2019 Those are toplined by Mirren at her imperious best, but also Clarke, Richard Roxburgh and Rory Kinnear as a particularly officious advisor. Brian Lowry, CNN, "'Catherine the Great' crowns Helen Mirren (again) for regal miniseries," 21 Oct. 2019 Sheryl McCallum has delicious timing as the officious black principal, who’s not without her own awkward boundary breaches. Lisa Kennedy, The Know, "Theater review: “Fairfield” at Miners Alley is an ouchy-funny race comedy," 22 July 2019 Larry Cedar projects officious judicial bluster as the family attorney and Tom Shelton excels as E.J. Lofgren, a taxi driver who unwittingly ties up the plot’s loose ends. Tom Titus,, "On Theater: ‘Harvey’ hardly looks his age in Laguna," 6 June 2019 But her loving husband, Dayton (Charles Browning); their teenage daughter, Keisha (MaYaa Boateng); and especially Beverly’s officious sister, Jasmine (Roslyn Ruff), aren’t being very helpful. Ben Brantley, New York Times, "Review: Theater as Sabotage in the Dazzling ‘Fairview’," 17 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'officious.' 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 officious

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

History and Etymology for officious

Latin officiosus, from officium service, office

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Time Traveler for officious

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

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Last Updated

16 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Officious.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 19 January 2020.

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More Definitions for officious


How to pronounce officious (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of officious

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on officious

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for officious

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with officious

Spanish Central: Translation of officious

Nglish: Translation of officious for Spanish Speakers

Comments on officious

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to insert between existing elements

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