Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day for November 16, 2019 is:

officious • uh-FISH-us  • adjective

1 : volunteering one’s services where they are neither asked nor needed : meddlesome

2 : informal, unofficial


“There are too many yellow flags being thrown around the NFL. Whether it’s too many rules or too many officious officials, it’s gotten ridiculous.” — Brent Musburger, The Las Vegas Review Journal, 21 Sept. 2019

“Instead we docked briefly at the Lionhead Campground before being chased off by an officious campground host because we’d overstayed the 15-minute loading and unloading limit.” — Eli Francovich, The Spokesman-Review (Spokane, Washington), 16 Aug. 2019

Did you know?

Don’t mistake officious for a rare synonym of official. Both words stem from the Latin noun officium (meaning “service” or “office”), but they have very different meanings. When the suffix –osus (“full of”) was added to officium, Latin officiosus came into being, meaning “eager to serve, help, or perform a duty.” When this adjective was borrowed into English as officious in the 15th century it described dutiful people and their actions. That use shifted a bit semantically to describe those eager to help or serve. By the late 16th century, however, officious was beginning to develop a negative sense describing a person who offers unwanted help. This pejorative sense has driven out the original “dutiful” and “eager to help” senses to become the predominant meaning of the word in modern English. Officious can also mean “of an informal or unauthorized nature,” but that sense is not common.

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