• Offensive


    • IPA: /əˈfÉ›nsɪv/
    • (sports) US IPA: /ˈɔˌfÉ›nsɪv/


    From French offensif, from Latin as if *offensivus, from offendere ("to offend"), past participle offensus; see offend.

    Full definition of offensive



    1. Causing offense; arousing a visceral reaction of disgust, anger, or hatred.
      Some feminists find pornography offensive.
    2. Relating to an offense or attack, as opposed to defensive.
      • 2013-06-07, Ed Pilkington, ‘Killer robots’ should be banned in advance, UN told, In his submission to the UN, Christof Heyns points to the experience of drones. Unmanned aerial vehicles were intended initially only for surveillance, and their use for offensive purposes was prohibited, yet once strategists realised their perceived advantages as a means of carrying out targeted killings, all objections were swept out of the way.
    3. The army's offensive capabilities. An offensive weapon.
    4. (team sports) Having to do with play directed at scoring.
      The offensive coordinator is responsible for ordering all rushing plays.

    Usage notes

    Nouns to which "offensive" is often applied: content, material, language, word, comment, remark, statement, speech, joke, humor, image, picture, art, behavior, conduct, act, action.

    When the second syllable is emphasized, "offensive" is defined as "insulting". When the first syllable is emphasized, it refers to the attacker of a conflict or the team in a sport who possesses the ball.


    Derived terms

    Related terms



    (countable and uncountable; plural offensives)
    1. (countable, military) An attack.The Marines today launched a major offensive.
    2. (uncountable) The posture of attacking or being able to attack.He took the offensive in the press, accusing his opponent of corruption.
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