re·​pul·​sive ri-ˈpəl-siv How to pronounce repulsive (audio)
: serving or able to repulse
repulsive force
: tending to repel or reject : cold, forbidding
: arousing aversion or disgust
repulsive crimes
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 His former associate sued him in May for even more repulsive behavior. Tori Otten, The New Republic, 20 Sep. 2023 What Trump forces did to them, in the wake of the 2020 election, was repulsive. Jay Nordlinger, National Review, 28 July 2023 The rest is all dark energy, an elusive—and hypothetical—repulsive force that shapes the universe’s evolution by driving it apart. Ramin Skibba, WIRED, 30 June 2023 While the act itself might seem repulsive to us humans, there are significant health risks associated with dogs consuming feces. Amber Smith, Discover Magazine, 24 July 2023 And two, the gravitational attraction caused by the mass of the rubber band itself completely overwhelms any repulsive effects. Popular Mechanics, 14 Feb. 2023 This stodgy conventional language was repulsive to Lorraine. Tessa Hadley, The New Yorker, 17 July 2023 Newton’s repulsive demands on the women became more violent over time and continued into his old age. Thomas Beller, Washington Post, 23 June 2023 To me, this is the most self-contradicting and repulsive, the most inhuman and absurd characteristic of our species. Nick Hilden, Washington Post, 18 June 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'repulsive.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


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

First Known Use

1594, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of repulsive was in 1594

Dictionary Entries Near repulsive

Cite this Entry

“Repulsive.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Oct. 2023.

Kids Definition


re·​pul·​sive ri-ˈpəl-siv How to pronounce repulsive (audio)
: causing disgust
repulsively adverb
repulsiveness noun

More from Merriam-Webster on repulsive

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