A-Z Database

A-Z Database

All A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Off hand

At first, from the late 17th century, off hand meant at once or immediately, only from the 18th century did it take on its current meaning of careless...

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Off limits

In the sense of forbidden or no-go areas, usually in the context of the military, is first recorded in America from the mid-19th century.


Off one’s face

British slang for drunk, possibly of Australian origin, dates from the late 1980s/early 1990s.


Off one’s own bat

Originally, a cricket term dating from the mid-18th century that only became figurative from the mid-18th century as doing something unaided, without...

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Off one’s rocker/off one’s trolley

These two expressions are coupled because they both mean the same thing and both derived at the same time from the same source, namely America. They b...

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Off piste

Piste is a French word that means a regular or designated ski run and to go off piste means to deviate or stray from such a ski run. Since the late 20...

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Off the beaten path/track

This expression is usually used to describe places that are fairly remote and inaccessible, from the obvious allusion that such places are far from we...

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Off the cuff

Unrehearsed, impromptu, dates from the 1930s and is of American origin; allegedly derives from speakers making last minute notes on small pieces of pa...

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Off the hook

Released from an awkward or distressing situation and dates from the mid-18th century from the allusion of a fish being released or escaping from the...

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Off the mark

Expressions like quick or slow off the mark date from the 15th century where a mark denoted the starting point of a race but was soon used figurativel...

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Off the rack

The use of rack in this sense comes from the 14th century use of the word meaning a framework. The same sense of the word is used when clothing is tak...

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Off the radar

Means out of sight, out of social circulation or lying low; in this figurative sense the expression dates from the 1980s. Originally, it was a purely...

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Off the wagon

see On the wagon


Off the wall

Originally an American expression for crazy or eccentric dates from the late 1960s and probably derives from unexpected shots off the wall in handball...

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Off to hell in a hand basket/handcart

see Going to hell in a hand basket/handcart


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