late Old English wæsc "act of washing," from wash (v.). Meaning "clothes set aside to be washed" is attested from 1789; meaning "thin coat of paint" is recorded from 1690s; sense of "land alternately covered and exposed by the sea" is recorded from mid-15c.
Old English wascan "to wash, cleanse, bathe," transitive sense in late Old English, from Proto-Germanic *watskan "to wash" (source also of Old Norse vaska, Middle Dutch wasscen, Dutch wassen, German waschen), from PIE root *wed- (1) "water; wet." Related: Washed; washing.
Used mainly of clothes in Old English (the principal verb for washing the body, dishes, etc. being þwean). Old French gaschier "to stain, soil; soak, wash" (Modern French gâcher) is from Frankish *waskan, from the same Germanic source. Italian guazzare also is a Germanic loan-word. To wash (one's) hands of something is 1550s, from Pilate in Matthew xxvii.24. To wash up "clean utensils after a meal" is from 1751. Washed up "no longer effective" is 1923, theater slang, from notion of washing up at the end of a job.
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.
"to kill," 1930, from off (adv.). Earlier verbal senses were "to defer" (1640s), "to move off" (1882). Related: Offed.
also washout, 1877, "act of washing out" (a drain, etc.), from verbal phrase; see wash (v.) + out (adv.). From 1873 as "excavation of a roadbed, etc., by erosion" is from 1873. Meaning "a disappointing failure" is from 1902, from verbal phrase wash out "obliterate, cancel" (something written in ink), attested from 1570s. Hence also the colloquial sense of "to call off (an event) due to bad weather, etc." (1917). Of colored material, washed-out "faded" is from 1837.