When should one use the word "obnoxious" , with what intension one should use it and how offensive this word is?

My question is when to use this word and by this I mean to whom I can say this word can I say this to my cousin how is making fun of me or being hard on me or just annoying me for couple of hour . Is it OK to say him/her obnoxious or is it too offensive statement to make.

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    What does the dictionary say, and how is it unclear to you? Please edit the question to clarify. Commented Mar 28, 2016 at 15:08
  • @200_success - Aside from occasional labels like vulgar or obscene, dictionaries aren't very good about putting words on an offensiveness scale. Here's a pretty good dictionary link for this word – but, if I were a learner, I still wouldn't know if this would be considered inappropriate to use in front of my cousin.
    – J.R.
    Commented Mar 28, 2016 at 17:10

2 Answers 2


It is perfectly acceptable to tell someone

Stop being so obnoxious!
Why are you being obnoxious?

often followed by

Stop it!
Go away!
Leave me alone!

The word obnoxious is itself not offensive, but can be used to describe behaviour, actions or words that are offensive.


The word obnoxious is actually a synonym of the word objectionable (an adjective) and is defined as:

causing disapproval or protest

Though the word sounds rude, and is often believed to be so; you could actually use it without being too rude.

As to when should you use this word? You could use it when you disapprove of an event in either disgust or in discomfort.

And lastly, yes it is really ok to call your cousin obnoxious, except if you call him/her obnoxious in totality. In that case it would be rude. You may call him/her obnoxious under a particular event eg.

Your behaviour last evening was obnoxious

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