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Pronunciation RealAudio

officious (o-FISH-uhs) adjective

1. Excessively eager in offering unwanted or unneeded advice or help.

2. Unofficial.

[From Latin officiosus (dutiful), from officium (service).]

"It (the petition) demands that the traffic officials of Grahamstown `return to being polite public servants, working for the good and safety of the community, rather than the rude and officious revenue officers they have become...'" Cecile Greyling, Teacher Launches Petition Against Traffic Department Repression, East Cape News (Grahamstown, South Africa), June 13, 2002.

"The bough of cherries some officious fool Broke in the orchard for her, the white mule." Robert Browning, My Last Duchess, 1842.

This week's theme: words that have changed meaning with time.


We grow tyrannical fighting tyranny. The most alarming spectacle today is not the spectacle of the atomic bomb in an unfederated world, it is the spectacle of the Americans beginning to accept the device of loyalty oaths and witchhunts, beginning to call anybody they don't like a Communist. -E.B. White, writer (1899-1985)

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