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obnoxious definition


This page has 8 definitions of obnoxious in English. Obnoxious is an adjective. Examples of how to use obnoxious in a sentence are shown. Also define these 0 related words and terms: .



PIE word

Learned borrowing from Latin obnoxiōsus (subject to someone, under someone’s authority) + English -ous (suffix denoting the presence of a quality in any degree, typically an abundance). Obnoxiōsus is derived from obnoxius (guilty, punishable; subject to someone, under someone’s authority) + -ōsus (suffix meaning ‘full of; overly; prone to’, forming adjectives from nouns).[1]



obnoxious (comparative more obnoxious, superlative most obnoxious)

  1. Extremely offensive or unpleasant; very annoying, contemptible, or odious.
    Synonyms: see Thesaurus:annoying, Thesaurus:unpleasant
    Antonyms: unobnoxious; see also Thesaurus:pleasant
    Throwing stones at the bus is another example of your obnoxious behaviour.
    • 1834, L[etitia] E[lizabeth] L[andon], chapter VII, in Francesca Carrara. [], volume I, London: Richard Bentley, [], (successor to Henry Colburn), →OCLC, page 74:
      The disturbance had commenced, like those of England, in the refusal of the parliament to sanction an obnoxious tax; but here all resemblance ended.
    • 1867, George MacDonald, “Sermon on God and Mammon”, in Annals of a Quiet Neighbourhood [], volume I, London: Hurst and Blackett, publishers, successors to Henry Colburn, [], →OCLC, page 359:
      For my part, thumb-marks [in books] I find very obnoxious—far more so than the spoiling of the binding.
    • 1989, Antônio Torres, Blues for a Lost Childhood: A Novel of Brazil, Columbia, La.: Readers International, →ISBN, page 41:
      Someone jolted my arm and the contents of my glass spilled onto an immaculate white dress. I felt obnoxious.
    • 2003, David Bennun, “After the Earthquake”, in Tick Bite Fever, London: Ebury Press, published 2004, →ISBN, page 109:
      I would have been nine or ten when my mother chased me up a thorn tree with a ceremonial hippo-hide whip. What my crime was, I forget. My mother was, and remains, a woman of exceptional forbearance. I must have done something so obnoxious as to beggar belief.
    • 2013, Molly Cutpurse [pseudonym?], chapter 5, in Dark Man, [United Kingdom: Lulu.com], →ISBN, page 44:
      He felt obnoxious and knew perfectly well that he would have no explanation whatsoever had anyone discovered him, but she looked so alluring, so untroubled, so fortunate, that his only concern was the terrible crack the shutter made...quiet as it was.
  2. (of a person) Unjustly disagreeable, argumentative or objectionable; brazenly rude.
    He was an especially obnoxious and detestable specimen of a man.
    • 2013 December 13, Catherine Hilterbrant, chapter 16, in Drive-by Psychosis, Bloomington, Ind.: iUniverse, →ISBN, page 51:
      I always feel out of place when I am around people. I feel obnoxious if I laugh or talk too much.
  3. (archaic or obsolete) Exposed or vulnerable to something, especially harm or injury.
    • 1597, Richard Hooker, “The Author of the Abstract”, in J[ohn] S[penser], editor, Of the Lawes of Ecclesiastical Politie, [], 2nd edition, London: [] Will[iam] Stansby [for Matthew Lownes], published 1611, →OCLC, book V, page 449:
      [T]he reſidence and the ſingle liuinges of miniſters preſume not onely to annihilate the ſolemne ordinations of ſuch as the Church muſt of force admit, but alſo to vrge a kinde of vniuerſall proſcription againſt them, to ſet dovvne articles to dravv commiſſions, and almoſt to name themſelues of the Quorum for inquirie into mens eſtates and dealings, vvhom at their pleaſure they vvould depriue and make obnoxious to vvhat puniſhment themſelues liſt, []
    • 1612, J[ohn] Donne, “Of the Progresse of the Soule. Wherein, by Occasion of the Religious Death of Mistris Elizabeth Drury, the Incommodities of the Soule in this Life, and her Exaltation in the Next, are Contemplated. The Second Anniversary.”, in Poems, [] with Elegies on the Authors Death, London: [] M[iles] F[lesher] for Iohn Marriot, [], published 1633, →OCLC, page 265:
      Thinke but hovv poore thou vvaſt, hovv obnoxious; / VVhom a ſmall lumpe of fleſh could poyſon thus.
    • 1621, Democritus Junior [pseudonym; Robert Burton], “Iealosie, His Equivocations, Name, Definition, Extent, Severall Kindes, of Princes, Parents, Friends, in Beasts, Men, before Marriage, as Corriuals, or after as in This Place”, in The Anatomy of Melancholy, [], Oxford, Oxfordshire: Printed by John Lichfield and Iames Short, for Henry Cripps, →OCLC, partition 3, section 3, member 1, subsection 1, page 662:
      [M]elancholy perſons amongſt other paſſions and perturbations of the mind, are moſt obnoxious to it [jealousy].
    • 1658, [Nicolas de Bonnefons], “[The First Treatise.] Section VII. Of Trees and Shrubs in Particular, How They are to be Governed, and Their Maladies Cured.”, in John Evelyn, transl., The French Gardiner: Instructing How to Cultivate All Sorts of Fruit-trees, and Herbs for the Garden: [], 2nd edition, London: [] J[ohn] M[artyn] for John Crooke, [], published 1669, →OCLC, page 82:
      The Almond-tree is of all others the moſt obnoxious to Froſts, by reaſon of his early bloſſoming; []
    • 1661, Robert Boyle, “Physiological Considerations Touching the Experiments Wont to be Employed to Evince either the IV Peripatetick Elements, or the III Chymical Principls of Mixt Bodies. Part of the First Dialogue.”, in The Sceptical Chymist: or Chymico-physical Doubts & Paradoxes, [], London: [] J. Cadwell for J. Crooke, [], →OCLC, page 26:
      To begin then vvith his Experiment of the burning VVood, it ſeems to me to be obnoxious to not a fevv conſiderable Exceptions.
    • 1661, Joseph Glanvill, “A Fourth Reason of Our Ignorance and Error, viz. the Fallacy of Our Imaginations; []”, in The Vanity of Dogmatizing: Or Confidence in Opinions. [], London: [] E. C[otes] for Henry Eversden [], →OCLC; reprinted in The Vanity of Dogmatizing [] (Series III: Philosophy; 6), New York, N.Y.: For the Facsimile Text Society by Columbia University Press, 1931, →OCLC, page 102:
      Novv then, vve being thus obnoxious to fallacy in our apprehenſions and judgements, and ſo often impoſed upon by theſe deceptions; our Inferences and Deductions muſt needs be as unvvarrantable, as our ſimple and compound thoughts are deceitful.
    • 1682, John Bunyan, “[Talk betwixt Mr. Carnal Security, and Mr. Godly-fear]”, in The Holy War, Made by Shaddai upon Diabolus, for the Regaining of the Metropolis of the World. [], London: [] Dorman Newman []; and Benjamin Alsop [], →OCLC, page 243:
      'Tis true, the Tovvn of Manſoul vvas ſtrong, and (vvith a proviſo) impregnable; but you, the Tovvnſmen have vveakened it, and it novv lyes obnoxious to its foes; []
    • 1712 August 6 (Gregorian calendar), Joseph Addison, “SATURDAY, July 26, 1712”, in The Spectator, number 441; republished in Alexander Chalmers, editor, The Spectator; a New Edition, [], volume V, New York, N.Y.: D[aniel] Appleton & Company, 1853, →OCLC, page 173:
      It is our comfort, while we are obnoxious to so many accidents, that we are under the care of One who directs contingencies, []
    • 1810, Robert Southey, “Jaga-naut”, in The Curse of Kehama, London: [] [F]or Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown, [], by James Ballantyne and Co. [], →OCLC, page 154:
      The wicked Soul, who had assum'd again / A form of sensible flesh, for his foul will, / Still bent on base revenge, and baffled still, / Felt that corporeal shape alike to pain / Obnoxious as to pleasure: []
  4. (obsolete)
    1. Causing harm or injury; harmful, hurtful, injurious.
      • 1638, Tho[mas] Herbert, Some Yeares Travels Into Divers Parts of Asia and Afrique. [], 2nd edition, London: [] R[ichard] Bi[sho]p for Iacob Blome and Richard Bishop, →OCLC, book III, page 323:
        It [the crocodile] is the moſt obnoxious of all ſea monſters, []
      • 1765, [Oliver] Goldsmith, “Essay XII”, in Essays. [], London: [] W. Griffin [], →OCLC, pages 97–98:
        In learning the uſeful part of every profeſſion, very moderate abilities vvill ſuffice; great abilities are generally obnoxious to the poſſeſſors. Life has been compared to a race; but the alluſion ſtill improves, by obſerving, that the moſt ſvvift are ever the moſt apt to ſtray from the courſe.
    2. Deserving of blame or punishment; blameworthy, guilty.
      Synonym: reprehensible
      • 1610, John Donne, “That Nothing Requir’d in this Oath, Violates the Popes Spirituall Iurisdiction; []”, in Pseudo-Martyr. [], London: Printed by W[illiam] Stansby for Walter Burre, →OCLC, paragraph 9, page 353:
        And they dreſſed and prepard Hierome of Prage, an oath, in the Councell of Conſtance, by vvhich he muſt ſvveare, freely, voluntarily, (or elſe bee burned) and ſimplie, and vvithout condition, To aſſent to that Church, in all things, but eſpecially in the Doctrines of the Keyes, and Eccleſiaſtick immunities and reliques, and all the ceremonies, vvhich vvere the moſt obnoxious matters.
      • 1719, [Daniel Defoe], The Farther Adventures of Robinson Crusoe; [], London: [] W[illiam] Taylor [], →OCLC, page 296:
        [A]s our par[ti]cular Perſons vvere not obnoxious, ſo if any Engliſh or Dutch Ships came thither, perhaps vve might have an Opportunity to load our Goods, and get Paſſage to ſome other Place in India, nearer Home.
      • 1824, Walter Savage Landor, “Conversation VI. Æschines and Phocion.”, in Imaginary Conversations of Literary Men and Statesmen, volume I, London: [] Taylor and Hessey, [], →OCLC, page 73:
        Therefore no wise republic ought to be satisfied, unless she bring to punishment the individual most obnoxious, and those about him who may be supposed to have made him so, his counsellors and courtiers.
    3. Under the authority or power of someone; subject, subordinate; hence, deferential, submissive, subservient.
      • a. 1696 (date written), Anthony a Wood [i.e., Anthony Wood], “The Life of Anthony a Wood, Written by Himself”, in Anthony a Wood, Philip Bliss, Athenæ Oxonienses. An Exact History of All the Writers and Bishops who have had Their Education in the University of Oxford. [], new edition, volume I, London: [] F. C. and J. Rivington;  [], published 1813, →OCLC, page xlix:
        [M]ost of them (the fellowes) being sneaking and obnoxious, they did run rather with the temper of the warden, than stand against him, to keep themselves in and enjoy their comfortable importances.
    4. Followed by to: likely to do something.
      • 1610, John Donne, “That the Romane Religion doth by Many Erroneous Doctrines Misencourage and Excite Men to this Vicious Affectation of Danger: []”, in Pseudo-Martyr. [], London: Printed by W[illiam] Stansby for Walter Burre, →OCLC, part III (Of Purgatory), paragraph 17, page 188:
        [O]ur corruption novv is more obnoxious and apter to admitte and inuite ſuch poyſonous ingredients, and temporall reſpects, then in thoſe purer times, []
      • 1676, Matthew Hale, “Eccles[iastes] XII. 1.”, in Contemplations Moral and Divine. The Second Part, London: [] William Shrewsbury [], and Tho[mas] Leigh and D[aniel] Midwinter, [], published 1699, →OCLC, page 322:
        [T]he time of Youth is moſt Obnoxious to forget God; there is great Inadvertency and Inconſiderateneſs, Incogitancy, Unſtableneſs, Vanity, love of Pleaſures, Eaſineſs to be corrupted in Youth; []

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  1. ^ obnoxious, adj.”, in OED Online , Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, December 2022; “obnoxious, adj.”, in Lexico, Dictionary.com; Oxford University Press, 2019–2022.

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