Meaning of “offensive” in the English Dictionary

"offensive" in British English

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uk /əˈfen.sɪv/ us /əˈfen.sɪv/

offensive adjective (UPSETTING)

B2 causing offence:

This programme contains language that some viewers might find offensive.
He told some really offensive sexist jokes.


offensive smells

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adverb uk /əˈfen.sɪ us /əˈfen.sɪ
noun [ U ] uk /əˈfen.sɪv.nəs/ us /əˈfen.sɪv.nəs/

offensivenoun [ C ]

uk /əˈfen.sɪv/ us /əˈfen.sɪv/

(Definition of “offensive” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"offensive" in American English

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offensivenoun [ C ]

us /əˈfen·sɪv/

offensive noun [ C ] (MILITARY ATTACK)

a planned military attack:

They launched the land offensive in the middle of the night.


us /əˈfen·sɪv/

offensive adjective (OF A MILITARY ATTACK)

relating to or being a planned military attack:

an offensive action

offensive adjective (OF BAD FEELINGS)

causing someone to be upset or to have hurt feelings:

offensive comments/jokes

Offensive can be used more generally to mean unpleasant:

an offensive odor

(Definition of “offensive” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)

"offensive" in Business English

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uk /əˈfensɪv/ us

causing someone to feel upset and angry, often because of being rude:

offensive to sb His comments were highly offensive to women.
The channel ran a series of grossly offensive advertisements.

(Definition of “offensive” from the Cambridge Business English Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)