adjective of·fi·cious \ ə-ˈfi-shəs \
|Updated on: 17 Jul 2018

Definition of officious

1 archaic
a : kind, obliging
b : dutiful
2 : volunteering one's services where they are neither asked nor needed : meddlesome
  • officious people who are always ready to offer unasked advice
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

Recent Examples of officious from the Web

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.

We're 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.

Origin and Etymology of officious

Latin officiosus, from officium service, office

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


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

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