mid-14c., screne, "upright piece of furniture providing protection from heat of a fire, drafts, etc.," probably from a shortened (Anglo-French? compare Anglo-Latin screna) variant of Old North French escren, Old French escran "fire-screen, tester of a bed" (early 14c.). This is of uncertain origin, though probably from a Germanic source, perhaps from Middle Dutch scherm "screen, cover, shield," or Frankish *skrank "barrier," from Proto-Germanic *skirmjanan(source also of Old High German skirm, skerm "protection," Old Frisian skirma "protect, defend;" from PIE root *sker- (1) "to cut").
The sense of "anything interposed to conceal from view" is by c. 1600. The meaning "net-wire frame used in windows and doors" is recorded from 1859. Meaning "flat vertical surface for reception of projected images" is from 1810, originally in reference to magic lantern shows; later of movies. Transferred sense of "cinema world collectively" is attested from 1914; hence screen test "filmed test of performing abilities" (1918), etc.
The meaning "small fluorescent display on a TV set" is by 1946, extended to the display on a computer monitor by 1970, hence the monitor itself. The computer screen saver is attested by 1990. The meaning "window of an automobile" is by 1904. As a type of maneuver in sports, by 1934 (U.S. football, screen-pass). Screen printing recorded from 1918. Screen-door is from 1840. Screen-time "time spent watching a computer or television screen" is by 1999.
"to shield from punishment, protect from inconvenience or danger; to conceal," late 15c., from screen (n.). Meaning "sift by passing through a screen" is by 1660s; the meaning "examine systematically for suitability" is from 1943, a word from World War II. The sense of "release a movie" is from 1915. The U.S. sporting sense is by 1922. Related: Screened; screening.
by c. 1200 as an emphatic form of Old English of (see of), employed in the adverbial use of that word. The prepositional meaning "away from" and the adjectival sense of "farther" were not firmly fixed in this variant until 17c., but once they were they left the original of with the transferred and weakened senses of the word. Meaning "not working" is from 1861.
Off the cuff "extemporaneously, without preparation" (1938) is from the notion of speaking from notes written in haste on one's shirt cuffs. In reference to clothing, off the rack (adj.) "not tailored, not made to individual requirements, ready-made" is by 1963, on the notion of buying it from the rack of a clothing store; off the record "not to be publicly disclosed" is from 1933; off the wall "crazy" is 1968, probably from the notion of a lunatic "bouncing off the walls" or else in reference to carom shots in squash, handball, etc.
slang, "perform male masturbation," by 1896, from jerk (v.) denoting rapid pulling motion + off (adv.). Compare come off "experience orgasm" (17c.). Farmer and Henley ("Slang and Its Analogues") also lists as synonyms jerk (one's) jelly and jerk (one's) juice. The noun jerk off or jerkoff as an emphatic form of jerk (n.2) is attested by 1968. As an adjective from 1957.