of·​fal | \ ˈȯ-fəl How to pronounce offal (audio) , ˈä- \

Definition of offal

1 : the waste or by-product of a process: such as
a : trimmings (such as the belly, head, and shoulders) of a hide
b : the by-products of milling (as of wheat or barley) used especially for stock feeds
c : the viscera and trimmings of a butchered animal removed in preparing it for market or for consumption : variety meat
2 : rubbish

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In its original sense, offal refers to something that has fallen or been cast away from some process of preparation or manufacture, and it has been used to describe such things as the stalks and dust from tobacco leaves, the less valuable portions of an animal hide, the by-products of milling grain, and the viscera and trimmings of a butchered animal. The word offal, however, is not an etymological cast-off, but is an English original that arose in the late 14th century as a combination of of (the Middle English spelling of "off") and fall, aptly naming that which "falls off" or is cast aside from something else. Since the late 16th century, offal has also been used as a synonym for trash, garbage, and rubbish.

Examples of offal in a Sentence

a pile of offal from the tannery operating in the neighborhood
Recent Examples on the Web Under the eye of Italian filmmaker Ovidio G. Assonitis, who cut his genre teeth crafting a couple of Exorcist ripoffs and Tentacles, a sci-fi–horror flick with a top-notch cast, Madhouse is more than ’80s slasher offal. Gem Seddon, Vulture, 29 Oct. 2021 This new menu was heavy on fish, birds, and offal—but no steak. Jay Mcinerney, Town & Country, 27 Sep. 2021 The only beef comes in the form of offal: a silky mousse of veal brains with black truffles and a sauce crème, and sweetbreads in a Madeira demi-glace. Jay Mcinerney, Town & Country, 27 Sep. 2021 Cockscomb was the over-the-top, offal-loving follow-up to Cosentino’s former San Francisco restaurant Incanto, which catapulted him to national fame. Janelle Bitker,, 21 Oct. 2020 Executive chef and charcuterie nerd Josh Oakley knows his way around offal but thus far has kept the organ music relatively light. Amy Drew Thompson,, 29 Aug. 2021 The shop also sells wine, salads, seasonings, side dishes and offal. San Diego Union-Tribune, 20 Aug. 2021 When hosting foreign leaders, Gomez said that certain ingredients were likely to stay off the table: game meats, offal or giblets, for instance, which don’t sit well with many people. Vivian Song, Robb Report, 21 July 2021 On her family’s holiday table was a bounty of offal cooked in myriad ways: braised with garlic, fried with onion and spices, or mixed with eggs. New York Times, 9 July 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'offal.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of offal

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for offal

Middle English, from of off + fall

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Time Traveler for offal

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The first known use of offal was in the 14th century

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Last Updated

21 Nov 2021

Cite this Entry

“Offal.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Jan. 2022.

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English Language Learners Definition of offal

: the organs (such as the liver or kidney) of an animal that are used for food

More from Merriam-Webster on offal

Nglish: Translation of offal for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of offal for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about offal


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