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I was watching an NBA game. After Omer Asik missed an easy shot, the commentator said that Omer was not much of an offensive threat. I used to say offence threat often. Which usage is more established or more correct?

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Offensive threat. – user21497 Jan 31 '13 at 3:42
@BillFranke Is offence threat grammatically incorrect? – Terry Li Jan 31 '13 at 3:44
No, it isn't grammatically incorrect, but "offensive threat" is idiomatic and more commonly used. "Offence" is a nominal adjective (function: ADJ; part of speech: NOUN), and phrases that use nominal adjectives are perfectly grammatical. Grammaticality isn't the only criterion for choosing how to say something. Idiomaticity is more important. – user21497 Jan 31 '13 at 3:48
@BillFranke Thank you for making it clear. – Terry Li Jan 31 '13 at 3:49
up vote 1 down vote accepted

Offensive threat is the correct one.

It is used in this phrase as per the second meaning below (note the last example).

offensive (adjective)

  1. causing someone to feel resentful, upset, or annoyed:

    the allegations made are deeply offensive to us

    offensive language

    • (of a sight or smell) disgusting; repulsive: an offensive odour
  2. [attributive] actively aggressive; attacking:

    offensive operations against the insurgents

    • (of a weapon) meant for use in attack:

    he is also accused of possessing an offensive weapon

    • chiefly North American relating to the team in possession of the ball or puck in a game:

    Shell was an outstanding offensive tackle during his 15 years with the Raiders

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What is the difference between ...

  1. Beauty parlour & beautiful parlour
  2. Master electrician & masterful electrician
  3. Offence description & offensive description


Offence threat = threat of an offence occurring.

Offensive threat = a threat being projected in an offensive manner.

Offence description = the description of an offence.

Offensive description = a description expressed in an offensive manner.

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Yes, but in the parlance of sportscasters, an offensive threat has a different meaning (click the link). It means {someone who / a strategy that / a ground or passing game that} is likely to score a lot of points. There are always many semantic possibilities when words are ambiguous. In a sports commentary, the commentator won't mean in an offensive manner by the word offensive in the phrase offensive threat. Context is all in this case. – user21497 Jan 31 '13 at 11:08
I think there might well be people who don't know the meaning of "master" as opposed to journeyman or apprentice, and would indeed interpret "master electrician" as meaning they were masterful. – Jon Hanna Jan 31 '13 at 12:04
This answer is just wrong. The threat is not being projected in an offensive manner. – deadly Feb 4 '13 at 8:39

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