Definition of offence in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /əˈfɛns/
(US offense)


1A breach of a law or rule; an illegal act: the new offence of obtaining property by deception
More example sentences
  • It held such crimes to be offences against the law of nations, much as was the traditional crime of piracy.
  • 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.
  • It is the essence of offences against the person that what is done is done unlawfully.
crime, illegal/unlawful act, misdemeanour, breach/violation/infraction of the law, felony, wrongdoing, wrong, act of misconduct, misdeed, delinquency, peccadillo, sin, transgression, infringement, act of dereliction, shortcoming, fault, lapse;
archaic trespass
1.1A thing that constitutes a violation of what is judged to be right or natural: the outcome is an offence to basic justice
More example sentences
  • The scorning of the tribes is an offense to the natural order in the minds of many there.
  • So abusing the Quran is a hideous offense to Muslims more than the same abuse of a Bible would be to Christians.
  • In those buried and bygone days, it was an affront and an offense to join with separatists to defeat a corrupt government.
2 [mass noun] Annoyance or resentment brought about by a perceived insult to or disregard for oneself: he made it clear he’d taken offence I didn’t intend to give offence
More example sentences
  • Paramilitary flags or slogans and monuments do give offence to visitors and to different sectors of society.
  • ‘The argument then was that to allow this element would give offence to people of other faiths,’ wrote Torrance.
  • 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.
literary ire
be/feel offended, take exception, take something personally, be/feel aggrieved, be/feel affronted, take something amiss, take umbrage, get/be/feel upset, get/be/feel annoyed, get/be/feel angry, be/feel indignant, be/feel put out, be/feel insulted, be/feel hurt, be/feel wounded, feel piqued, be/feel resentful, be/feel disgruntled, get/go into a huff, get huffy
informal be/feel miffed, have one's nose put out of joint, be/feel riled
British informal get the hump
3 [mass noun] The action of attacking someone or something: [as modifier]: reductions in strategic offence arsenals
More example sentences
  • The doctor had skipped bail on sex offence charges and Melville nabbed him while on port watch for the Special Branch in Le Havre.
  • 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.
  • She said Seamus was known to police in Middleton and Rochdale and had been due to appear in court to face motor offence charges.
attack, offensive, assault, act of aggression, aggression, onslaught, thrust, charge, sortie, sally, invasion, incursion, foray
3.1 (offense) ˈɒfɛns North American The attacking team or players in a sport, especially in American football: he is a wide receiver, playing on offense
More example sentences
  • The rest of the players on offense had to adjust to the change in personality under center.
  • Saban will miss quarterback Matt Mauck and the other playmakers on offense who graduated.
  • That doesn't bode well for a team whose offense is predicated on running with George.


no offence

informal Do not be offended: OK, lady, no offence, just shooting my mouth off as usual
More example sentences
  • He is, however - no offense, Mark - not the most charismatic guy around.
  • Kat, no offense or anything, but how do you think this works?
  • Well, no offense, but if that is the case, then I want my money back.


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'.

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: of|fence

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.