Etymology
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off-and-on (adv.)

"intermittently, occasionally," 1530s; see off (adv.) + on. As an adjective, "occasional," from 1580s.

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cast-off (adj.)

1709, "put aside, rejected," from verbal phrase cast off "discard, reject" (c. 1400), from cast (v.) + off (adv.). From 1741 as a noun, "person or thing abandoned as worthless or useless." Related" Cast-offs.

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lead-off (n.)

"commencement, beginning," 1879, from verbal phrase (attested from 1806); see lead (v.1) + off (adv.).

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tick-tack-toe (n.)

children's three-in-a-row game with Xs and Os, so called by 1892, earlier tit-tat-toe (by 1852, in reminiscences of earlier years), also called noughts and crosses (1852), also oughts and crosses. Probably from the sound of the pencil on the slate with which it originally was played by schoolboys. Also the name of a children's counting rhyme played on slate (also originally tit-tat-toe, by 1842), and compare tick-tack (1580s), a form of backgammon, possibly from French trictrac, perhaps imitative of the sound of tiles on the board.

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off-hand (adv.)

also offhand, 1690s, "at once, straightway," from off (prep.) + hand (n.). Probably originally in reference to shooting "from the hand," without a rest or support. Hence, of speech or action, "without deliberation, unpremeditated" (1719). Related: Off-handed; off-handedly.

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off-limits (adj.)

"forbidden, outside the limits within which a particular group or person must remain," by 1881, U.S. military academies jargon, from off (prep.) + limit (n.). Earlier (1857) it was applied to cadets, etc., who were in violation of the limitations on their movement and behavior.

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off-line (adj.)

1926, of railroads, "not done on a railway;" 1950, in computing, "not controlled by or connected to a computer or network;" from off (prep.) + line (n.).

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off-season (n.)

1848, "a period when business is down," from off- (adj.) (see off (prep.)) + season (n.).

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off-white (n.)

"white with a tinge of gray or yellow;" as an adjective, "almost the same as white," 1927, from off (prep.) + white (n.).

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off-base (adv.)

"unawares," by 1936, American English, from off (adv.) + base (n.); a figurative extension from baseball sense of a runner being "not in the right position" (1882) and vulnerable to being picked off.

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