re·​pul·​sive | \ ri-ˈpəl-siv How to pronounce repulsive (audio) \

Definition of repulsive

1 : serving or able to repulse repulsive force
2 : tending to repel or reject : cold, forbidding
3 : arousing aversion or disgust repulsive crimes

Other Words from repulsive

repulsively adverb
repulsiveness noun

Examples of repulsive in a Sentence

Magnets have a repulsive effect on each other. a repulsive display of shameless flattery that made the embarrassed actor wrinkle his nose in disgust
Recent Examples on the Web This phenomenon acts as a mysterious repulsive force that accelerates the expansion rate. Ashley Strickland, CNN, 23 May 2022 Love was dangerous, violent, with an element of something repulsive. Elif Batuman, The New Yorker, 18 Apr. 2022 But the pair told me the repulsive elements of their films are a Trojan horse for their long-running experiment to examine the immense power cinema wields over viewers, a power that often feels perilous to them. Shirley Li, The Atlantic, 7 Apr. 2022 The viewer is engrossed in the plot because of the triggering events, often repulsive yet captivating, but also because of the production techniques and stylistic choices. Caroline Downey, National Review, 13 Mar. 2022 This means the attractive force between the pen and the electron is greater than the repulsive force between the pen and the proton. Rhett Allain, Wired, 28 Jan. 2022 The team also discovered two new receptors in the nose that help distinguish between certain pleasant and repulsive odors. Corryn Wetzel, Smithsonian Magazine, 7 Feb. 2022 Behold, the new repulsive narrator, a post-menopausal white woman who might be complicit in her husband’s crimes. Jessica Ferri, Los Angeles Times, 1 Feb. 2022 The egg grows at an accelerated rate to the size of a boulder, eventually birthing a freakish creature both repulsive and endearingly needy, which Tinja hides from her family under her bed or in her closet. David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter, 23 Jan. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'repulsive.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of repulsive

1594, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for repulsive

Middle English repulsyve "(in medicine) dissipating collected humors," borrowed from Middle French & Medieval Latin; Middle French repulsif "repelling, dissipating humors," borrowed from Medieval Latin repulsīvus, from Latin repulsus, past participle of repellere "to push away, drive back, fend off" + -īvus -ive — more at repel

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Time Traveler for repulsive

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The first known use of repulsive was in 1594

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Dictionary Entries Near repulsive

repulsion motor



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Last Updated

25 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Repulsive.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for repulsive


re·​pul·​sive | \ ri-ˈpəl-siv How to pronounce repulsive (audio) \

Kids Definition of repulsive

: causing disgust a repulsive sight

Other Words from repulsive

repulsively adverb
repulsiveness noun

More from Merriam-Webster on repulsive

Nglish: Translation of repulsive for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of repulsive for Arabic Speakers


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