Definition of officious
- officious people who are always ready to offer unasked advice
Theme music by Joshua Stamper ©2006 New Jerusalem Music/ASCAP
an officious little man who was always telling everyone else how to do their jobs
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.
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.
First Known Use: 15th centurySee Words from the same year
—used to describe an annoying person who tries to tell other people what to do in a way that is not wanted or needed
What made you want to look up officious? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).
Confusing Words—A Quiz