Definition of offense in US English:


(British offence)


  • 1A breach of a law or rule; an illegal act.

    ‘neither offense violates any federal law’
    • ‘In that case the applicant had been convicted of offences of indecent assault.’
    • ‘The original version of the bill would have made an immigration violation a felony offense.’
    • ‘Both women were convicted of minor nonviolent drug offenses.’
    • ‘It is the essence of offences against the person that what is done is done unlawfully.’
    • ‘Offences against the laws governing political parties are not punishable as a criminal offence, but can incur painful financial sanctions.’
    • ‘Beginning in 2009, adults arrested for any felony offense are subject to DNA collection.’
    • ‘The skewness of the perceived severity distribution for each felony drug offense was examined.’
    • ‘It is also clear that the charge of assault against the second applicant is an offence under the criminal law as well as under the Prison Rules.’
    • ‘Police may call it the fineable offence of contravening traffic rules, but it is the order of the day among minibus drivers.’
    • ‘What about offences against the state and against the administration of justice?’
    • ‘The nation's legal nightmare around non-violent drug offenses is the primary cross he bears.’
    • ‘Both stand accused of plunder, an offense punishable by death.’
    • ‘In this way the defendant consumed the criminal offence of premeditated murder.’
    • ‘An offence of indecent assault, since 1985, carries a maximum sentence of 10 years.’
    • ‘But the case was abandoned Thursday after magistrates found he had not committed a criminal offense.’
    • ‘Another 1995 law made the laundering of money from drug trafficking a serious criminal offense.’
    • ‘The number of juveniles arrested for drug-related offenses has increased 80 percent in the last seven years.’
    • ‘It held such crimes to be offences against the law of nations, much as was the traditional crime of piracy.’
    • ‘Singapore still considers graffiti an offense punishable by flogging.’
    • ‘These, in the main, are young people committing offences against other young people.’
    crime, illegal act, unlawful act, misdemeanour, breach of the law, infraction of the law, violation of the law, felony, wrongdoing, wrong, act of misconduct, misdeed, delinquency, peccadillo, sin, transgression, infringement, act of dereliction, shortcoming, fault, lapse
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    1. 1.1 A thing that constitutes a violation of what is judged to be right or natural.
      ‘the outcome is an offense to basic justice’
      • ‘To try to impose on others by violent means what we consider to be the truth is an offence against human dignity.’
      • ‘War is a crime against humanity and an offence against God.’
      • ‘So abusing the Quran is a hideous offense to Muslims more than the same abuse of a Bible would be to Christians.’
      • ‘The scorning of the tribes is an offense to the natural order in the minds of many there.’
      • ‘In those buried and bygone days, it was an affront and an offense to join with separatists to defeat a corrupt government.’
      affront, slap in the face, insult, outrage, injury, hurt, injustice, indignity, slight, snub
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  • 2Annoyance or resentment brought about by a perceived insult to or disregard for oneself or one's standards or principles.

    ‘I didn't intend to give offense’
    ‘he went out, making it clear he'd taken offense’
    • ‘A demonstration may annoy or give offence to persons opposed to the ideas of claims that it is seeking to promote.’
    • ‘They were not amused by the spoof - and McDonald's finished up saying it meant no offense.’
    • ‘Carolingian rule and culture were familiar in many ways; it was its flavour of high-handedness and moral urgency that might give offence to the inhabitants of Italy.’
    • ‘Look, if it caused any anger or upset and in some way got the candidate off-message for the past couple of days of the campaign, I meant no offense.’
    • ‘We can assure you that no offense was ever intended.’
    • ‘He's also painfully anxious not to give offence, and you wonder if he's almost too nice for his own good.’
    • ‘Instead of sounding out ideas in order to judge them critically, academics seem only too happy to silence debate in case it causes insult or offence to individuals.’
    • ‘Last time Clark commented on Tamihere she said that he meant no offense.’
    • ‘For language, I'd almost always leave it in, unless it was something that would clearly give offense.’
    • ‘This guy heard what I said and must have taken offence.’
    • ‘Workers will have to think twice before telling insensitive jokes or expressing intolerant views which may give offence.’
    • ‘Paramilitary flags or slogans and monuments do give offence to visitors and to different sectors of society.’
    • ‘Video game developers counter that no offense is intended.’
    • ‘And when I say that, please understand I mean no offense to the ghost of the 70s comedian.’
    • ‘‘The argument then was that to allow this element would give offence to people of other faiths,’ wrote Torrance.’
    • ‘Is the make of car he drives likely to cause offence?’
    • ‘I have taken offence to the statement that a lie was told, and I ask for it to be withdrawn and apologised for.’
    • ‘I wanted to put all your minds at rest - my wife reads my article each week and has not taken offence (so far, anyway).’
    • ‘I ask the Minister to stand and withdraw that remark about the point that the member has taken offence to.’
    • ‘I saw the person who is alleged to have taken offense on the tram a few days later, and she seemed fine.’
    • ‘As a middle-aged freedom fighter, I've always taken offense at this notion.’
    annoyance, anger, resentment, indignation, irritation, exasperation, wrath, displeasure, disapproval, dislike, bad feelings, hard feelings, ill feelings, disgruntlement, animosity, pique, vexation, umbrage, antipathy, aversion, opposition, enmity
    be offended, feel offended, take exception, take something personally, be aggrieved, feel aggrieved, be affronted, feel affronted, take something amiss, take umbrage, be upset, feel upset, get upset, be annoyed, feel annoyed, get annoyed, be angry, feel angry, get angry, be indignant, feel indignant, be put out, feel put out, be insulted, feel insulted, be hurt, feel hurt, be wounded, feel wounded, feel piqued, be resentful, feel resentful, be disgruntled, feel disgruntled, get into a huff, go into a huff, get huffy
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  • 3The action of attacking someone or something.

    as modifier ‘reductions in strategic offense arsenals’
    • ‘The doctor had skipped bail on sex offence charges and Melville nabbed him while on port watch for the Special Branch in Le Havre.’
    • ‘Three of the staff, two women and a man, were arrested and given a police caution for offence - which means they admitted their guilt.’
    • ‘As the offense team monitored the threat rings we were flying through, the copilot saw a missile at our 4 o'clock.’
    • ‘On Tuesday a bench warrant was issued for his arrest at Limerick District Court when he failed to appear to face two public order offence charges.’
    • ‘It is more of a defense and offense attack combined.’
    • ‘And these are the offense football teams that quickly do damage to anything and everything in their path.’
    • ‘Convictions for both groups were coded using New Zealand Police offence codes.’
    • ‘He had been facing sex offence charges against young girls at the time Rory disappeared last month.’
    • ‘She said Seamus was known to police in Middleton and Rochdale and had been due to appear in court to face motor offence charges.’
    • ‘But for every feint that was ignored, for every offense move that was countered, Tiana dealt equally.’
    attack, offensive, assault, act of aggression, aggression, onslaught, thrust, charge, sortie, sally, invasion, incursion, foray
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    1. 3.1North American (in sports) the team or players who are attempting to score or advance the ball.
      • ‘That doesn't bode well for a team whose offense is predicated on running with George.’
      • ‘Wayne will bring adequate size and a polished game to one of the league's most potent offenses.’
      • ‘The team will need contributions from some of its younger players on offense.’
      • ‘Most importantly, they kept the high-octane Kansas City offense off the field.’
      • ‘A first down is achieved when the offense has moved the ball ten yards from its previous spot.’
      • ‘The Chargers would like another big run stuffer on defense and a versatile player on offense.’
      • ‘On the other hand, the Colts are a much-improved team with a very potent offense.’
      • ‘In the second half of the game the New England offense had the ball for over 21 of the 30 minutes in the second half.’
      • ‘He is as automatic as it gets in the league and as much of a weapon as any player on offense.’
      • ‘Michael, being wide receiver of the offense, had scored four touchdowns.’
      • ‘First, it brings back a productive player on a young offense that needs playmakers.’
      • ‘The offense struggled to sustain drives last year and must get better on third down.’
      • ‘The rest of the players on offense had to adjust to the change in personality under center.’
      • ‘But he remains an integral part of one of the NFL's most potent offenses.’
      • ‘If the Eagles keep both of their second-round picks, they could go for skill players on offense.’
      • ‘They'll have to be to keep Florida's dangerous offense off the field.’
      • ‘The game started with both offenses moving the ball well only to have field goal attempts sail wide.’
      • ‘The problem with Tampa Bay's offense is it lacks the team speed to be effective.’
      • ‘They are so bad their offense has 18 false-start penalties in six games.’
      • ‘Saban will miss quarterback Matt Mauck and the other playmakers on offense who graduated.’
    2. 3.2US (in sports) the condition of possessing the ball or being on the team attempting to score.
      • ‘After studying last season's offense and the offenses of other teams, the staff concluded the Cardinals were trying to be too exotic in their running game.’
      • ‘He is a leader who controls the offense and defends the ball as well as anyone.’
      • ‘Also, Longley significantly contributed to three Bulls' championships by meticulously executing the triangle offense.’
      • ‘Stay cool and poised, as David Duke did, and play offense by pushing Russert's toughest questions back at him.’
      • ‘I get a chance to run teams through plays and offenses and feedback with the coaches.’
      • ‘While its blitz-happy schemes will result in some big plays, they will leave the team vulnerable against big-play offenses.’
      • ‘Amidst strong winds and in front of a large Hamline homecoming crowd, the Scots struggled on offense, turning the ball over five times.’
      • ‘Neither team did a good job taking care of the ball on offense as Redbank Valley had three fumbles, lost one and two Jason Smith interceptions.’
      • ‘In a triangle offense, shooting and passing skills are must-haves for the center.’
      • ‘In this mode you are rewarded for doing things like passing for a first down and QB sacks, so you can score during both offense and defense.’
      • ‘Practice sessions are needed to fine-tune parts of your game, working on team offenses and defenses.’
      • ‘He was happy to run the offense, distribute the ball, and shut down the other team's best players.’
      • ‘Those clubs played some serious offense en route to winning their Super Bowl titles.’
      • ‘In his second start, he showed great control of the offense and spread the ball around.’
      • ‘Lavender proved he can score and run an offense at Oklahoma, but he sometimes needs to be encouraged to share the ball.’
      • ‘Ewen was under no illusions regarding the areas that need work - the speed of ball movement when the team is on the offense and the organisation of offensive play.’
      • ‘On key fourth-quarter possessions, Finley often got the ball in a spread offense.’
      • ‘Against the Colts in the divisional round, they relied heavily on a ball-control offense and kept the ball for more than 37 minutes.’
      • ‘He's the point guard who best combines scoring and running the offense.’
      • ‘If Georgetown does create a slower tempo, Florida will need sophomore point guard Taurean Green to score in a half-court offense.’


  • no offense

    • informal Do not be offended.

      • ‘Well, no offense, but if that is the case, then I want my money back.’
      • ‘Yes, I'd even say it has the edge over London - no offense of course.’
      • ‘And they're very raunchy and loud and that's just my opinion so, please, no offense.’
      • ‘This is just a gentle reminder of course, no offence.’
      • ‘There is such a thing as ‘bad’ poetry, and, no offense, but I've read a fair it of it on here.’
      • ‘He says, ‘Look, no offence, but I don't know you, I can't risk my story.’’
      • ‘He is, however - no offense, Mark - not the most charismatic guy around.’
      • ‘It was a surprise to say the least - no offence to her or anything.’
      • ‘Kat, no offense or anything, but how do you think this works?’
      • ‘I'm not trying to be mean or anything, it's just that… well, no offense, but you suck.’


Late Middle English: from Old French offens ‘misdeed’, from Latin offensus ‘annoyance’, reinforced by French offense, from Latin offensa ‘a striking against, a hurt, or displeasure’; based on Latin offendere ‘strike against’.