Meaning of “off” in the English Dictionary

"off" in British English

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uk /ɒf/ us /ɑːf/

off adverb (AWAY FROM)

B1 away from a place or position, especially the present place, position, or time:

He drove off at the most incredible speed.
Keep the dog on the lead or he'll just run off.
Someone ran off with (= took) my pen.
She's off to Canada next week.
I saw her off (= said goodbye) at the station.
Finals are so far off that I'm not even thinking about them yet.
UK I'm off now - see you tomorrow.
UK If we can get off (= leave) early tomorrow morning we'll avoid most of the traffic.

More examples

  • When we heard she'd got the job, we all went off for a celebratory drink.
  • The horses set off at a canter.
  • The dog trotted off to bury its bone.
  • I'm jetting off to New Zealand next week.
  • The gang drove off, with the police in hot pursuit.

off adverb (REMOVED)

A2 used with actions in which something is removed or removes itself from another thing:

Take your jacket off.
One of my buttons has come off.
She had all her hair cut off.

More examples

  • Two of his fingers were chopped off in the accident.
  • I hope these bloodstains will clean off my shirt.
  • Take your clothes off and get in the bath.
  • He licked the chocolate off his fingers.
  • The parcel had only been loosely wrapped, and the paper had come off.

off adverb (NOT OPERATING)

A2 (especially of machines, electrical devices, lights, etc.) not operating because of not being switched on:

Make sure the computers are all off before you go home.
Turn/Switch the light/engine/television off.

More examples

  • At the top of the hill I switched off the engine and we just coasted down the other side.
  • Switch off the electric current before touching that machine.
  • I can turn the television off if you find it a distraction.
  • Please turn mobile phones off in the library.
  • This sort of heater turns off at the mains.

off adverb (LESS MONEY)

B1 (of money) taken away from the original price:

You can get some money off if you pay cash.
There's 40 percent off this week on all winter coats.
There was $40 or $50 off most jackets in the store.

More examples

  • This coupon allows you to claim 10% off all DVDs.
  • I'll knock £20 off if you pay by cash.
  • She asked for some money off because the book was slightly damaged.
  • There's up to 50% off everything in our massive sale which starts next week.
  • The card entitles you to 30% off all rail fares.

off adverb (NOT AT WORK)

A2 not at work; at home or on holiday:

I'm going to take/have some time off to work on my house.
She was off sick last week.
He's off at the moment - can I get him to call you back?

More examples

  • If you can get some time off work, we could finish the decorating.
  • I need to get it finished before Friday because I'm off next week.
  • He asked the boss if he could have some time off.
  • How much time do you get off?
  • She's been off since Monday with a cold.

off adverb (SEPARATED)

in such a way as to be separated:

The police have shut/closed off all streets leading to the city.
The area in the park where the kids play is fenced off for safety reasons.

More examples

  • The pitch has been roped off to stop people from walking over it.
  • They've cordoned off the whole area because of a suspected bomb.
  • The scene of the crime has been closed off by the police.
  • She marked off the amount of fabric she needed.
  • An area of the factory has been sealed off while the asbestos is removed.

off adverb (COMPLETELY)

in such a way as to be completely absent, especially because of having been used or killed:

It says on the bottle that it kills off all known germs.
It'll take some time before she manages to pay off all her debts.
The good thing about exercise is that it burns off calories.
Between us we managed to finish off several bottles of wine.

More examples

  • He could spar well enough but he couldn't seem to finish off his opponents.
  • The decorating is as good as finished - I just need to finish off the painting.
  • In a normal winter, the frost penetrates deeply enough to kill off insect eggs in the soil.
  • Running is an excellent way to burn off excess calories.
  • Things are back to normal now that we've paid off all our debts.

off adverb (IN COMPETITION)

also -off used to form nouns referring to a situation in which two or more people or teams compete against each other to see who is the winner:

the BBC series, the Great British Bake Off
Audience applause determines the winner of each dance-off.


uk /ɒf/ us /ɑːf/

off preposition (AWAY FROM)

B1 down or away from a place, position, or time, especially the present place, position, or time:

There was a "Keep off the grass" sign.
All the berries had dropped off the tree.
He fell off his bike.
We're still a long way off our target of $30,000.
I hope she knows where to get off (= leave) the bus/train.
How far off finishing the project are we? (= How much more is there to do?)
UK We've been working on the flat for six months now but we're still a long way off finishing.
UK We're not far off (= we are quite near) London now.

More examples

  • I've gone off seafood after I was sick the last time I had it.
  • She's much better now, and she's off the medication.
  • I'm going off Richard. He's so arrogant these days!
  • It was enough to make anyone go off fast food.
  • I went off meat after I saw that documentary.

off preposition (REMOVED)

B1 used with actions in which something is removed or removes itself from another thing:

I can't get the lid off this jar.
Has anyone taken a book off my desk?
Could you cut me a small piece off that big white cheese?
Take your feet off that seat, young man!
I don't like taking money off you (= asking you for money)!
Get off me! (= Stop touching me!)
not standard I got the knife off of him before he ran away.


uk /ɒf/ us /ɑːf/

off adjective (STOPPED)

C2 [ after verb ] (of an arranged event) stopped or given up:

The wedding's off - she's decided she's too young to settle down.
informal It's all off (= the relationship is over) between Kim and Mike.

More examples

  • The game's off, due to a waterlogged pitch.
  • Lack of interest led to the event being called off.
  • The search for survivors has been called off.
  • Tomorrow's game has been called off because of the bad weather.
  • The search was called off for the sailors who disappeared in the storm.

off adjective (BAD)

B2 [ after verb ] mainly UK (of food and drink) no longer fresh or good to eat or drink because of being too old:

This milk smells off.
I'd better eat this cheese before it goes off.

More examples

  • Do you think this meat is off?
  • The milk has gone off because you left it out of the fridge.
  • That bacon look off to me.
  • The fruit will go off quickly if it's not stored at the right temperature.
  • That cheesecake must have already been off when you bought it.

offnoun [ S ]

uk /ɒf/ us /ɑːf/ UK informal

offverb [ T ]

uk /ɒf/ us /ɑːf/ US slang

(Definition of “off” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"off" in American English

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offadjective, adverb [ not gradable ]

us /ɔf/

off adjective, adverb [ not gradable ] (NOT OPERATING)

(esp. of a machine, electrical device, light, etc.) not operating because it is not switched on:

Was the computer on or off when you left?
Turn the engine off.

off adjective, adverb [ not gradable ] (NOT AT)

not at work or school, esp. being at home or on vacation:

I’m going to take a week off to work on my house.
I’m off next week.
The kids get off early from school today.
off duty

To be off duty is to not be working, usually because you have finished work for the day:

She goes off duty at midnight.
An off-duty police officer on his way home interrupted a crime in progress.

off adjective, adverb [ not gradable ] (BELOW USUAL LEVEL)

below the usual standard or rate:

Sales have been off this month.
He’s a good tennis player but had an off day and lost in straight sets.
They took 10% off (= below the usual price) because I paid in cash.

off adjective, adverb [ not gradable ] (STOPPED)

(of an arranged event) stopped or given up in advance:

Last night’s baseball game was called off because of rain.

offpreposition, adjective, adverb [ not gradable ]

us /ɔf/

off preposition, adjective, adverb [ not gradable ] (AWAY FROM)

away from a place or position, esp. the present place or position:

He drove off at high speed.
She’s off to Canada next week.
The sign says, "Keep off the grass."

offpreposition, adverb [ not gradable ]

us /ɔf/

off preposition, adverb [ not gradable ] (REMOVED)

used with actions in which something is removed or removes itself from another thing:

I think I’ll take my jacket off.
I can’t get the lid off this jar.
He fell off his bike.
Did you leave the phone off the hook (= not put back in such a way that a call is ended)?

off preposition, adverb [ not gradable ] (FAR AWAY)

far away in time or space:

Graduation is still a long way off.
That’s not the right answer, but you’re not far off.


us /ɔf/

off preposition (NEAR TO)

near to:

The island is just off the coast of Florida.

off adverb [ not gradable ] (TAKEN AWAY)

in such a way as to be taken away or removed, esp. because of having been used or killed:

to pay off debts
Exercise burns off fat.
They were all killed off by disease.

off adverb [ not gradable ] (CLOSED)

in such a way as to be separated:

to mark off 10 feet
The children’s play area is fenced off for safety reasons.

(Definition of “off” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)