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
a : kind, obliging
b : dutiful

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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 Nevarro’s cantina is now a school being run by a female protocol droid who sounds just as officious as C-3PO. Lauren Morgan,, "The Mandalorian recap: Mando helps old friends on a new mission," 20 Nov. 2020 What luck, then, that an entire coven seems to have followed them to the seaside Southern resort the pair have escaped to, a grand old hotel overseen by the fussily officious Mr. Stringer (Stanley Tucci). Leah Greenblatt,, "HBO Max's The Witches casts the wrong kind of spell: Review," 21 Oct. 2020 Amid widespread demonstrations against the firing of Cinémathèque Française founder Henri Langlois for confounding the officious culture minister André Malraux, Cannes shut down midway through its 1968 festival. J. Hoberman, The New York Review of Books, "My Quarantine: Cannes, Interrupted," 13 May 2020 Mostly, a diffident young woman named Jane (Ozark Emmy-winner Julia Garner) just goes about her mundane daily tasks at a drably officious New York film-production company: filling out lunch orders, collating copies, answering the phones. Leah Greenblatt,, "The 10 best movies of 2020… so far," 29 June 2020 While at first officious, Kate is, at heart, struggling with grief and using the choir as a coping mechanism. Maureen Lee Lenker,, "Kristin Scott Thomas on how Military Wives speaks to our current moment," 20 May 2020 Likewise, the show’s depiction of a strain of officious bureaucracy that uses an ostentatious form of well-meaning solicitude to mask various forms of self-serving malice occasionally strikes home. Jacob Bacharach, The New Republic, "Watching South Park at the End of the World," 3 Apr. 2020 Witherspoon’s Elena is almost indistinguishable from her officious, perfectionist Big Little Lies character. Judy Berman, Time, "Little Fires Everywhere," 11 Mar. 2020 In that bright, smug milieu, Ellen is trapped and watched—by the nosy neighbor, the officious postman, even the cute but insistent little boy who keeps dropping by with his toy TV and six-shooters. Margaret Talbot, The New Yorker, "“Cause for Alarm!,” a Film Noir That Feels Accidentally Feminist," 21 Feb. 2020

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 3b

History and Etymology for officious

Latin officiosus, from officium service, office

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

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Cite this Entry

“Officious.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Apr. 2021.

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More Definitions for officious



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

More from Merriam-Webster on officious

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for officious

Nglish: Translation of officious for Spanish Speakers

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