Definition of off in English:

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Pronunciation: /ôf/
Pronunciation: /äf/


1Away from the place in question; to or at a distance: the man ran off she dashed off to her room we must be off now
More example sentences
  • Terrified, Mr Austin did as he was told and then called the police after seeing his car speed off into the distance.
  • A policewoman told a jury how she ran after a driver who sped off as she was questioning him.
  • Closing the distance between us she veered off to my left and stood beside me, facing in the opposite direction.
1.1Away from the main route: turning off for Ripon
More example sentences
  • Traffic is a nightmare by about 4pm for a few hours and there is only one route off.
  • You can either go down the well-trodden route or detour off onto another track.
  • The branch line can be mapped as a line running next to the main line until the location where they split off.
2So as to be removed or separated: he whipped off his coat a section of the runway had been cordoned off
More example sentences
  • The site was cordoned off and US military officials removed top secret equipment.
  • The best way to lose weight and keep it off is to remove as much fat from the diet as possible.
  • They placed her in the recovery position and took her coat off, using their own clothes to keep her warm.
2.1Absent; away from work: take a day off he is off on sick leave
More example sentences
  • However her health was not good enough to allow this and she was forced to take another year off on sick leave.
  • Because I am still off sick I feel duty bound to stay indoors all day and do nothing.
  • What will they do with their children all week long when swimming is out of the question until dad is off at the weekend.
away, absent, out, unavailable, not at work, off duty, on leave, on vacation;
free, at leisure;
British  on holiday
3Starting a journey or race; leaving: the gunmen made off on foot they’re off!
More example sentences
  • Midwives from Epsom and St Helier NHS Trust are off on a research journey to China.
  • The teenager had waited with a female friend at a bus stop before heading off on the short journey home.
  • Once my sleigh is packed and ready to go, I'll be off on my journey around the world.
4So as to bring to an end or be discontinued: the Christmas party rounded off a hugely successful year she broke off her reading to look at her husband
More example sentences
  • The festival will be rounded off on Sunday with a free and easy all-in open session.
  • ‘It can't be,’ said Carl, his voice trailing off.
  • Talks between the two sides broke off in May.
4.1Canceled: tell them the wedding’s off
More example sentences
  • While some high profile projects have been killed off, in the main the government has no idea how to replace them.
  • She returned the money when, on the day of the ceremony, the wedding was called off.
  • Apparently, there had been an announcement on a local radio station saying the event was off.
canceled, postponed, called off, shelved
4.2British informal (Of a menu item) temporarily unavailable: strawberries are off
More example sentences
  • Give us fruit, cheese, or just tell us dessert is off, but spare us monstrosities like ‘tartufo’, a ball of synthetic vanilla ice cream in a saccharine-sweet meringue jacket.
  • For starters, I went for deep-fried lobster tails, only to be told the lobster was off.
5(Of an electrical appliance or power supply) not functioning or so as to cease to function: switch the TV off the electricity was off for four days
More example sentences
  • Speakers would cut out at random, and would only come back on when I turned the amp off and on again, or turned it up to full volume.
  • She was grateful that she had found some candles, because the power had been flickering off and on.
  • When I switch the engine off and on and activate the wiper lever they restart - although this is of little help on the motorway.
6chiefly British Having access to or possession of material goods or wealth to the extent specified: we’d been rather badly off for books how are you off for money?
More example sentences
  • He found that the company was not nearly as badly off as he had initially thought.
  • I went over and he said, ‘How are you off for grub?’
  • Arthur's a lot better off than half the population - he's got a home and a steady job.


1Moving away and often down from: he rolled off the bed the coat slipped off his arms trying to get us off the stage
More example sentences
  • She folded her arms and Kev reluctantly jumped down off the stage so he didn't have to yell all the way across the room.
  • I keep a waste paper bin next to the chair I sit on so I had visions of it having bounced off the arm of the chair and into the bin.
  • Like a true Brit, I hold on to summer until the last leaves have fallen off the trees.
2Situated or leading in a direction away from (a main route or intersection): single wires leading off the main lines a backstreet off Olympic Boulevard
More example sentences
  • Situated just off Filey's main thoroughfare, this proved to be a busy venue.
  • The new pool in the Gorbals is off the main bus route and, in any case, the ladies are not allowed to book it.
  • There were three different types of toilets in the yards off the main street.
2.1Out at sea from (a place on the coast): anchoring off Blue Bay six miles off Dunkirk
More example sentences
  • Eventually, Frank and his comrades anchored three miles off the French coast at day break.
  • American authorities will have an aircraft carrier anchored off the coast.
  • Several types of endangered sea turtles live in the waters off the Angolan coast.
3So as to be removed or separated from: threatening to tear it off its hinges they are knocking $2,000 off the price figurative it’s a huge burden off my shoulders
More example sentences
  • I wrote to the originator of the list and told them please take my name off your list as I have no interest in being in your group.
  • She closed her eyes for a moment as she tore the tarpaulin off the person beneath it.
  • The ship suffered huge damage, which ultimately caused the keel to tear itself off the boat's hull.
3.1Absent from: I took a couple of days off work
More example sentences
  • He said the workers plan to remain off work until the money is paid into their accounts.
  • The doctor has given me a week off work to rest and recuperate.
  • As a response to this action some employees have stayed off the job for almost two weeks.
3.2 informal Abstaining from: he managed to stay off alcohol
More example sentences
  • In the future all I hope is that I stay off drugs and keep clean, get my children back, get my own house and a good job.
  • He has embarked on yet another comeback and is apparently off the booze.
  • The alcohol reacted to my system in a way that has turned me off alcohol for life.


1 [attributive] Characterized by someone performing or feeling worse than usual; unsatisfactory or inadequate: even the greatest athletes have off days
More example sentences
  • It could be, of course, that he just had an off night for he faded after a bright opening.
  • Episode II is probably the weakest so for but then we all have an off day now and then.
  • He just has an off day at Cheltenham and the flatter Aintree circuit suits him much better.
2 [predicative] (Of food) no longer fresh: the fish was a bit off
More example sentences
  • The manager also arrived to apologise, though he did not agree with my view that the fish was off.
  • Her coffee was bad, maybe the milk was off.
  • The brining solution in the can may react to the metal and give the olives an off taste.
rotten, bad, stale, moldy, sour, rancid, turned, spoiled, putrid, putrescent;
(of beer)  skunky
3 [attributive] Located on the side of a vehicle that is normally furthest from the curb; offside. Compare with near (sense 4 of the adjective).
4 [predicative] British informal Annoying or unfair: His boss deducted the money from his pay. That was a bit off
More example sentences
  • Sometimes I think it's a bit off when clubs expect you to make a choice.
  • We were there to learn and listening to a boring old bloke talking about things which we considered irrelevant to 17 year old West Midlanders was a bit off.
5 [predicative] British informal Unwell: I felt decidedly off
More example sentences
  • The 19-year-old student woke up feeling ‘a bit off’ but went to her part-time job at a clothing store anyway.
  • Am feeling a little off today - like I might be coming down with something.
  • I sit out by the loft and observe the birds a lot and if one looks a bit off I can see it.
unwell, ill, out of sorts, not oneself, sick, indisposed, bad
informal under the weather, not up to par, lousy, crummy
vulgar slang crappy


(also off side) Cricket
The half of the field (as divided lengthways through the pitch) toward which the batsman’s feet are pointed when standing to receive the ball. The opposite of leg.
Example sentences
  • Headland bats with real style and is deadly square of the wicket on the off side.
  • The fields above the village were terraced and the leg-side fielders stood six feet above the wicket while those on the off side were six feet below it.
  • Bradman hit only one four in front of the wicket on the off, but 14 to the on by means of drives and his celebrated pull.


[with object] informal
North American Kill; murder: she might off a cop, but she wouldn’t shoot her boyfriend
More example sentences
  • Maybe it's just me, but I don't think the best way to prove your innocence of murder is by offing a bunch of law enforcement officers.
  • Two of the robbers are brothers, and one becomes violently angry when the cop offs his sibling.
  • In the meantime, they assassinated their vice president and just missed offing the president.


Off of is often used in place of the preposition off in contexts such as she picked it up off of the floor (compared with she picked it up off the floor). Although off of is recorded from the 16th century (it was used by Shakespeare) and is logically parallel to the standard out of, it is regarded as incorrect in standard modern English.


off and on

Intermittently; now and then.
Example sentences
  • Yet it was the beginning of a struggle with alcohol which for the next four years, off and on, got me into trouble.
  • You know, I've been talking to Judy off and on about this case for the last year.
  • As someone who has tried to cast light on the mystery off and on for the last 40 years, I was becoming increasingly sceptical.
periodically, at intervals, on and off, (every) once in a while, every so often, (every) now and then/again, from time to time, occasionally, sometimes, intermittently, irregularly


Old English, originally a variant of of (which combined the senses of 'of' and 'off').

Words that rhyme with off

boff, cough, doff, far-off, quaff, roll-on roll-off, scoff, telling-off, toff, trough

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: off

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