Re: off of



"Jed Toscanini" <nospam@xxxxxxxxxx> wrote

I hear this quite often, and wonder why. Example: "every second
you spend within arm's reach of a robot can take years off of your
life". Why the 'of'?


The OED says:

7. In all senses, off may be followed by from; formerly, and still
colloq. and dial. by of.
a. 1526 Tindale Matt. viii. 30 A good waye off from them. 1542
Boorde Dyetary viii. (1870) 246 Stand or syt a good waye of from the
fyre. 1697 W. Dampier Voy. I. 109 The wind is commonly off from the
Land. 1871 Carlyle in Mrs. C.'s Lett. III. 200 She wished to be off
from the July bargain. 1593 Shakes. 2 Hen. VI, ii. i. 96 A fall off
of a Tree. 1667 Marvell Corr. Wks. 1872?5 II. 224 The Lords and we
cannot yet get off of the difficultyes risen betwixt us. 1678 Bunyan
Pilgr. i. 49 About a furlong off of the Porters Lodge. 1712 Steele
Spect. No. 306 36, I could not keep my Eyes off of her. 1775 P.
Oliver in T. Hutchinson's Diary 7 Dec. I. 581 A Rebell
Pirate+taken+off of Cape Ann. 1824 J. Wight Mornings at Bow St. 21
Two young men+were charged by a watchman with having ?bother'd him on
his bate,? and refused to ?go along off of it when he tould 'em.?
1843 T. C. Haliburton Attaché 1st Ser. II. xii. 210 The groom has
stole her oats, forgot to give her water, and let her make a supper
sometimes off of her nasty, mouldy, filthy beddin?. 1875 P. Brooks
New Starts in Life viii. 129 If you could have filled his pockets
with gold, and feasted his hunger off of silver dishes. 1884 ?Mark
Twain? Huck. Finn vi. 32 I'd borrow two or three dollars off of the
judge for him. a1922 T. S. Eliot Waste Land Drafts (1971) 5 The
reputation the place gets, off of a few barflies. 1962 F. Norman
Guntz i. 15, I got hold of this very very old typewriter off of a
friend of mine. Ibid. iii. 24 After his secretary had picked him off
of the floor he got on the blower to his accounts department. 1965
T. Parker Five Women i. 45 They'll thieve off-of anyone and jump in
bed with anyone. 1974 J. Stubbs Painted Face xxiii. 284 Get off of
me, will you, sir?

_Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of English Usage_ says this:

"'Off of' is an innocuous idiom--a compound preposition made of the
adverb 'off' and the preposition 'of'--that has been in use since the
16th century:[followed by quote from 2 Henry VI (1592)]

[...]

"If it is part of your personal idiom and you are not writing on an
especially elevated plane, you have no reason to avoid 'off of'."

IOW, if you want to imitate George W. Bush, go right ahead.

--
Franke: EFL teacher & medical editor
Native speaker of American English; posting from Taiwan.
"It has come to my attention that my opinions are not universally
shared." Scott Adams.
.