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

  • adv. From a place or position: drove off.
  • adv. At a certain distance in space or time: a mile off; a week off.
  • adv. From a given course or route; aside: swerved off into a ditch.
  • adv. Into a state of unconsciousness: I must have dozed off.
  • adv. So as to be no longer on, attached, or connected: shaved off his mustache.
  • adv. So as to be divided: marked off the playing field by yards.
  • adv. So as to be no longer continuing, operating, or functioning: switched off the radio.
  • adv. So as to be completely removed, finished, or eliminated: kill off the mice.
  • adv. So as to be smaller, fewer, or less: Sales dropped off.
  • adv. So as to be away from work or duty: They took a day off.
  • adv. Offstage.
  • adj. Distant or removed; farther: the off side of the barn.
  • adj. Remote; slim: stopped by on the off chance that they're home.
  • adj. Not on, attached, or connected: with my shoes off.
  • adj. Not operating or operational: The oven is off.
  • adj. No longer taking place; canceled: The wedding is off.
  • adj. Slack: Production was off this year.
  • adj. Not up to standard; below a normal or satisfactory level: Your pitching is off today.
  • adj. Not accurate; incorrect: Your statistical results are off.
  • adj. Somewhat crazy; eccentric: I think that person is a little off.
  • adj. Started on the way; going: I'm off to see the president.
  • adj. Absent or away from work or duty: She's off every Tuesday.
  • adj. Spent away from work or duty: My off day is Saturday.
  • adj. Being on the right side of an animal or vehicle.
  • adj. Being the animal or vehicle on the right.
  • adj. Nautical Farthest from the shore; seaward.
  • adj. Sports Toward or designating the side of the field facing the batsman in cricket.
  • adj. Off-color.
  • prep. So as to be removed or distant from: The bird hopped off the branch.
  • prep. Away or relieved from: off duty.
  • prep. By consuming: living off locusts and honey.
  • prep. With the means provided by: living off my pension.
  • prep. Informal From: "What else do you want off me?” ( Jimmy Breslin).
  • prep. Extending or branching out from: an artery off the heart.
  • prep. Not up to the usual standard of: off his game.
  • prep. So as to abstain from: went off narcotics.
  • prep. Nautical To seaward of: a mile off Sandy Hook.
  • intransitive v. To go away; leave: Off or I'll call the police.
  • transitive v. Slang To murder.
  • idiom off and on In an intermittent manner: slept off and on last night.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adv. In a direction away from the speaker or object.
  • adv. Into a state of non-operation; into a state of non-existence.
  • adj. inoperative, disabled
  • adj. rancid, rotten
  • adj. in, or towards the half of the field away from the batsman's legs; the right side for a right-handed batsman
  • adj. Less than normal, in temperament or in result.
  • adj. Circumstanced.
  • adj. Started on the way.
  • prep. Used to indicate movement away from a position on
  • prep. Out of the possession of.
  • prep. Away from or not on.
  • prep. Disconnected or subtracted from.
  • prep. Distant from.
  • prep. No longer wanting or taking.
  • prep. Placed after a number (of products or parts, as if a unit), in commerce or engineering.
  • v. To kill.
  • v. To switch off.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. On the farther side; most distant; on the side of an animal or a team farthest from the driver when he is on foot; in the United States, the right side
  • adj. Designating a time when one is not strictly attentive to business or affairs, or is absent from his post, and, hence, a time when affairs are not urgent.
  • adj. Designating a time when one's performance is below normal.
  • adv. In a general sense, denoting from or away from; as
  • adv. Denoting distance or separation.
  • adv. Denoting the action of removing or separating; separation
  • adv. Denoting a leaving, abandonment, departure, abatement, interruption, or remission
  • adv. Denoting a different direction; not on or towards: away.
  • adv. Denoting opposition or negation.
  • n. The side of the field that is on the right of the wicket keeper.
  • interj. Away; begone; -- a command to depart.
  • prep. Not on; away from

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • At a point more or less distant; away.
  • Nautical: Away; clear (as from the land, a danger, etc.): opposed to on, on to, or toward.
  • Away (as from the wind): opposed to close, near, or up: as, to keep a ship off a point or two.
  • Away; quite away (expressing motion, or the act of departure or removal); to a distance; in such a manner as to drive or keep away; in another direction (opposed to toward): as, he ran off; to beat off an enemy; to stave off bankruptcy; to wave off an intruder; to put off the evil day; to head off a danger; to choke off inquiry; to laugh off an accusation; to look off.
  • Away from a certain position, connection, attachment, or relation; away by physical removal or separation: as, to cut, pare, clip, peel, pull, strip, or tear off; to take off one's hat; to mark off the distance; to shake off a drowsy feeling.
  • [In this sense often used with ellipsis of the verb (go, get, take, etc.), and often with with following.
  • In such a way as to interrupt continuity or progress; so as to stop or cause a discontinuance: as, to break off negotiations; to leave off work; to turn off the gas.
  • Away; in such a manner as to be or become abated or diminished: as, the fever began to pass off; the demand has fallen off.
  • Quite to the end; so as to finish; utterly; to exhaustion or extermination: an intensive: as, to kill off vermin; to drain off a swamp.
  • Forthwith; offhand: as, to rattle off a story; to dash off a string of verses.
  • Nautical, on alternate tacks, now toward and now away from the land; to and fro.
  • See the verbs.
  • From; distant from.
  • Not on (a street or highway); leading from or out of.
  • Nautical, to seaward of at short distance; opposite or abreast of to seaward: as, the ship was off St. Lucia.
  • A way from; with separation or removal from; so as no longer to be or rest on: as, to take a book off a shelf; he fell off his horse; my eye is never off him; that care is off his mind: often pleonastically from off.
  • Deviating from, especially from what is normal or regular: as, off the mark; off the square; off the pitch (in music).
  • In a state of not being engaged in or occupied with: as, he is off duty to-day.
  • From: indicating source: as, I bought this book off him.
  • Of: indicating material: as, to make a meal off fish: also pleonastically off of.
  • By extension, not of the proper character; not of the highest quality, reputation, etc.; especially, equivocal or of doubtful morality, as a story or print.
  • Out of sorts; indisposed.
  • Foolish; crazy.
  • More distant; further; hence, as applied to horses, oxen, etc., driven in pairs abreast (the driver's position being on the left of them), right; right-hand: opposed to near or left-hand: as, the off side in driving; the off horse.
  • In cricket, on that side of the field which is to the left of the bowler: opposed to on. See diagram under cricket.
  • Leading out of or away from a main line: applied to streets: as, we turned out of Oxford street into an off street.
  • Characterized by discontinuance or interruption of that which is usual or normal; not occupied with or devoted to the usual business or affairs: as, this is an off day; off time; an off year (in United States politics, a year in which no important elections take place).
  • A way from the mark or right direction; mistaken; wrong: as, you are quite off in that matter. [Colloq.]
  • Conditioned; circumstanced.
  • n. Same as offing.
  • n. In cricket, that part of the field to the bowler's left.
  • Away! depart! begone!
  • Nautical, to move off shore; steer from the land: said of a ship, and used only in the present participle: as, the vessel was offing at the time the accident happened.
  • An abbreviation. See Of.

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

  • adv. at a distance in space or time
  • adv. no longer on or in contact or attached
  • adj. in an unpalatable state
  • adj. not performing or scheduled for duties
  • v. kill intentionally and with premeditation
  • adj. (of events) no longer planned or scheduled
  • adj. not in operation or operational
  • adj. below a satisfactory level
  • adv. from a particular thing or place or position (`forth' is obsolete)


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

Variant of Middle English of, from Old English.



Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • "'Those old wooden stairs,' said Vaclav. 'The tar roof, the gas coppers in the laundry. I am curious an old place like that has not caught fire on its own. It is a death trap. There were some women sunbaking on the roof. But they did not see us.'

    'Don't worry about them,' said Les. 'They live there.'

    'I tell you one thing,' said Grigor. 'When it does go, nothing will stop it. She will be off like the rotten fishcake,' he added with a laugh."

    - 'Robert Barrett, 'Between the Devlin and the Deep Blue Seas'.

    August 30, 2008

  • Ah, here. This one (among many, many others):

    go off To start into sudden action; to break into a fit of laughter, extravagance of language, irrelevant or unintelligible discourse, etc. (emphasis mine)

    May 14, 2008

  • Ohhhhh. Now I'm stumped as to how to explain/justify “go off” in that sense. But I have had a wonderful time considering all possible meanings of off.

    May 14, 2008

  • A contranym: it means both off *and* on (e.g., "the alarm went off").

    May 14, 2008

  • Cricket jargon - the side of the field closest away from batsman's body.

    November 29, 2007