of·​fal ˈȯ-fəl How to pronounce offal (audio)
: the waste or by-product of a process: such as
: trimmings (such as the belly, head, and shoulders) of a hide
: the by-products of milling (as of wheat or barley) used especially for stock feeds
: the viscera and trimmings of a butchered animal removed in preparing it for market or for consumption : variety meat

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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 Do not deposit litter, fish offal or any foreign matter in any waters. Mika Travis, Detroit Free Press, 26 July 2023 The term humble pie, for example, comes from pies made with umbles, or scraps of meat and offal that fed peasants who were seated far away from royalty at banquets. Kim Severson, New York Times, 2 May 2023 Trippa alla Romana is a classic and beloved dish of cucina povera, in which offal takes the spotlight from more-expensive cuts. Luke Pyenson, Washington Post, 19 Apr. 2023 Haggis-like combinations of offal and grains are part of the culinary history of several countries. Angus MacKinnon, CNN, 3 Apr. 2023 But some researchers think this could be the opportunity for offal to make a comeback of sorts. Leslie Nemo, Discover Magazine, 8 Dec. 2020 The head, tail, and all the off-cuts (offal), making up a fifth quarter, were left to butchers and poor people. oregonlive, 21 Apr. 2023 Can meek boys be vitalized by raw offal? Luke Winkie, Bon Appétit, 31 Aug. 2022 Most people eat very little offal, if any at all. Leslie Nemo, Discover Magazine, 8 Dec. 2020 See More

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

Word History


Middle English, from of off + fall

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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


Dictionary Entries Near offal

Cite this Entry

“Offal.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


of·​fal ˈȯ-fəl How to pronounce offal (audio)
: the waste or by-product of a process
especially : the inside organs of and parts trimmed from an animal killed and prepared for food
fish offal

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