Entries linking to unoffending
prefix of negation, Old English un-, from Proto-Germanic *un- (source also of Old Saxon, Old Frisian, Old High German, German un-, Gothic un-, Dutch on-), from PIE *n- (source of Sanskrit a-, an- "not," Greek a-, an-, Old Irish an-, Latin in-), combining form of PIE root *ne- "not." Often euphemistic (such as untruth for "lie").
The most prolific of English prefixes, freely and widely used in Old English, where it forms more than 1,000 compounds. It underwent a mass extinction in early Middle English, but emerged with renewed vigor 16c. to form compounds with native and imported words. It disputes with Latin-derived cognate in- (1) the right to form the negation of certain words (indigestable/undigestable, etc.), and though both might be deployed in cooperation to indicate shades of meaning (unfamous/infamous), typically they are not.
It also makes words from phrases (such as uncalled-for, c. 1600; undreamed-of, 1630s; uncome-at-able, 1690s; unputdownable, 1947, of a book; un-in-one-breath-utterable, Ben Jonson; etc., but the habit is not restricted to un-; such as put-up-able-with, 1812). As a prefix in telegramese to replace not and save the cost of a word, it is attested by 1936.
early 14c., offenden, "to disobey or sin against (a person, human or divine)," a sense now obsolete, from Old French ofendre "hit, attack, injure; sin against; antagonize, excite to anger" and directly from Latin offendere "to hit, thrust, or strike against," figuratively "to stumble, commit a fault, displease, trespass against, provoke," from assimilated form of ob "in front of against" (see ob-) + -fendere "to strike" (found only in compounds; see defend).
Meaning "to violate (a law), to make a moral false step, to commit a crime" is from late 14c. Meaning "to wound the feelings of, displease, give displeasure to, excite personal annoyance or resentment in" is from late 14c. The literal sense of "to attack, assail" (late 14c.) is obsolete, but it is somewhat preserved in offense and offensive. Related: Offended; offending; offendedness.
updated on February 28, 2014