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A contest, especially one centering around an ordinarily noncompetitive activity: dance-off; sing-off.

[From -off as in RUNOFF and PLAYOFF.]

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2022 by HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.
off (ôf, ŏf)
1. From a place or position: He walked off in a huff.
a. At a certain distance in space or time: a mile off; a week off.
b. From a given course or route; aside: The car swerved off into a ditch.
c. Into a state of unconsciousness: I must have dozed off.
a. So as to be no longer on, attached, or connected: He shaved off his mustache.
b. So as to be divided: We marked off the playing field by yards.
4. So as to be no longer continuing, operating, or functioning: She switched off the radio.
5. So as to be completely removed, finished, or eliminated: Will the cats kill off the mice?
6. So as to be in a state of sudden violent or loud activity: The firecracker went off. The alarm went off.
7. So as to be smaller, fewer, or less: Sales dropped off.
8. So as to be away from or not engaged in work or duty: They took a day off.
9. Offstage.
a. Distant or removed; farther: the off side of the barn.
b. Remote; slim: stopped by on the off chance that they're home.
2. Not on, attached, or connected: with my shoes off.
3. Not operating or operational: The oven is off.
4. No longer taking place; canceled: The wedding is off.
5. Slack: Production was off this year.
a. Not up to standard; below a normal or satisfactory level: Your pitching is off today.
b. Not accurate; incorrect: Your statistical results are off.
c. Somewhat crazy; eccentric: I think that person is a little off.
7. Started on the way; going: I'm off to see the president.
a. Absent, away from, or not engaged in work or duty: She's off every Tuesday.
b. Spent away from work or duty: My off day is Saturday.
a. Being on the right side of an animal or vehicle.
b. Being the animal or vehicle on the right.
10. Nautical Farthest from the shore; seaward.
11. Sports Toward or designating the side of the field facing the batsman in cricket.
12. Off-color.
1. So as to be removed or distant from: The bird hopped off the branch.
2. Away or relieved from: off duty.
a. By consuming: living off locusts and honey.
b. With the means provided by: living off my pension.
c. Informal From: "What else do you want off me?" (Jimmy Breslin).
4. Extending or branching out from: an artery off the heart.
5. Not up to the usual standard of: off his game.
6. So as to abstain from: went off narcotics.
7. Nautical To seaward of: a mile off Sandy Hook.
v. offed, off·ing, offs
To go away; leave: Off or I'll call the police.
To murder.
off and on
In an intermittent manner: slept off and on last night.

[Variant of Middle English of, from Old English; see apo- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]

Usage Note: The compound preposition off of is generally regarded as informal and is best avoided in formal speech and writing: He stepped off (not off of) the platform. Off is informal as well when used to indicate a source. Formal style requires I borrowed it from (not off) my brother.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2022 by HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.

Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices

    Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:

    Indo-European Roots

    Semitic Roots

    The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.