Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. The part of the sea visible from shore that is very distant or beyond anchoring ground.
  • idiom in the offing In the near or immediate future; soon to come: with exams finished and graduation in the offing.
  • idiom in the offing Nearby; at hand.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. The area of the sea in which a ship can be seen in the distance from land, excluding the parts nearest the shore, and beyond the anchoring ground.
  • n. The distance that a ship at sea keeps away from land, often because of navigational dangers, fog and other hazards; a position at a distance from shore.
  • n. The foreseeable future. Chiefly in the phrase in the offing.
  • v. Present participle of off.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. That part of the sea at a good distance from the shore, or where there is deep water and no need of a pilot; also, distance from the shore

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. That part of the open visible sea that is remote from the shore, beyond the anchoring-ground, or beyond the mid-line between the shore and the horizon.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. the near or foreseeable future
  • n. the part of the sea that can be seen from the shore and is beyond the anchoring area

Etymologies

off +‎ ing. Attested since the 1620s. Early texts also spell the term offin and offen. (Wiktionary)

Examples

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Comments

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  • See also in the offing.

    October 14, 2008

  • "Offing, implies out at sea, or at a good distance from the shore, where there is deep water, and no need of a pilot to conduct the ship; thus, if a ship from shore be seen sailing out towards the sea, they say, 'She stands for the offing.' And if a ship having the shore near her, have another a good way without her, or towards the sea, they say, 'That ship is in the offing.'"
    Falconer's New Universal Dictionary of the Marine (1816), 326

    October 14, 2008