off-lim·​its ˈȯf-ˈli-məts How to pronounce off-limits (audio)
: not to be entered or patronized by a designated class (such as military personnel)
also : not to be interfered with, considered, or spoken of
the subject of sex was off-limits in her family

Examples of off-limits in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Two obvious candidates to help Trump maintain control, his two adult sons, are already off-limits. Bernard Condon, Fortune, 17 Feb. 2024 Health officials declared the water off Cabrillo Beach off-limits, noting that bacterial levels had risen and needed to come back down to acceptable levels. Greg Wehner, Fox News, 8 Feb. 2024 In Guayaquil, soldiers and police officers destroy camera systems installed by gangs to watch over entire neighborhoods, storm into areas once largely off-limits to the police and knock down doors to uncover caches of guns and explosives. Annie Correal Federico Rios, New York Times, 7 Feb. 2024 Their stances vary on the best ways to tackle the problem and on city ordinance 41.18, which prohibits homeless people from setting up tents within 500 feet of schools and day-care centers and allows the council to designate other areas as off-limits to encampments. Caroline Petrow-Cohen, Los Angeles Times, 1 Feb. 2024 Brosnan has pleaded not guilty to two counts for allegedly walking in off-limits areas of Yellowstone National Park, reports People. Vulture, 19 Jan. 2024 Lahaina remains off-limits to everyone except residents and business owners. Kerry Breen, CBS News, 27 Jan. 2024 Employees of all ages admitted to being unsure of what to talk about with their coworkers—what’s fair game, what’s off-limits, and what’s even interesting at all. Jane Thier, Fortune, 23 Jan. 2024 But ever since the country invaded Ukraine, global collaborations with Russian scientists have ground to a halt, and Russian field stations have become off-limits to most foreign researchers. Rachel Nuwer, Scientific American, 22 Jan. 2024 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'off-limits.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1945, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of off-limits was in 1945

Dictionary Entries Near off-limits

Cite this Entry

“Off-limits.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Mar. 2024.

Kids Definition


: not to be entered or used by a certain group of people
: not to be discussed or considered
questions about my salary are off-limits

More from Merriam-Webster on off-limits

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