Entries linking to off-shore
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.
"land bordering a large body of water," c. 1300, from Old English scora, sceor- (in place-names) or from Middle Low German schor "shore, coast, headland," or Middle Dutch scorre "land washed by the sea," all probably from Proto-Germanic *skur-o- "cut," from PIE root *sker- (1) "to cut."
This is the usual theory, "but the etymological notion is not easy to determine" [OED]. It has been proposed as meaning "division" between land and water, but if the word began on the North Sea coast of the continent, it might as well have meant originally "land 'cut off' from the mainland by tidal marshes" (compare Old Norse skerg "an isolated rock in the sea," related to sker "to cut, shear").
Old English words for "coast, shore" were strand (n.), waroþ, ofer. Few Indo-European languages have such a single comprehensive word for "land bordering water" (Homer uses one word for sandy beaches, another for rocky headlands).
General application to "country near a seacoast" is attested from 1610s. In law, typically the tract between the high- and low-water marks (1620s). Shore-bird is attested from 1670s; the sailor's shore-leave by 1845.
updated on August 19, 2019