off·​set | \ ˈȯf-ˌset How to pronounce offset (audio) , transitive senses are also ȯf-ˈset \
offset; offsetting; offsets

Definition of offset

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1a : to place over against something : balance credits offset debits
b : to serve as a counterbalance for : compensate his speed offset his opponent's greater weight
2 : to form an offset in offset a wall

intransitive verb

: to become marked by offset


off·​set | \ ˈȯf-ˌset How to pronounce offset (audio) \

Definition of offset (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : something that serves to counterbalance or to compensate for something else demands conspicuous offsets to the enemy's successes especially : either of two balancing ledger items
2a(1) : a short prostrate (see prostrate entry 1 sense 3) lateral shoot arising from the base of a plant
(2) : a small bulb arising from the base of another bulb
b : a lateral or collateral (see collateral entry 2 sense 2) branch (as of a family or race) : offshoot
c : a spur (see spur entry 1 sense 4a) from a range of hills
3a : a printing process in which an inked impression from a plate is first made on a rubber-blanketed cylinder and then transferred to the paper being printed
b : unintentional transfer of ink (as from a freshly printed sheet)
b : a horizontal ledge on the face of a wall formed by a diminution of its thickness above
c : an abrupt change in the dimension or profile of an object (such as a bowl) or the part set off by such change
5 : something that sets off to advantage or embellishes something else : foil The clown was a humorous offset in the play.
6 : an abrupt bend in an object (such as a pipe or a rod) by which one part is turned aside out of line
7a : cessation rapid regular beating of the heart … characterized by sudden onset and sudden offset— H. J. Stewart
b archaic : outset, start

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Other Words from offset


offset adjective or adverb

Examples of offset in a Sentence

Verb Gains in one area offset losses in another. The limited storage space in the house is offset by the large garage. Noun a better performance this time will be an offset to last year's dismal showing symptoms that were striking for their abrupt onset and their equally abrupt offset
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb And lower auto loan rates can help to offset the impact of price increases since most people take out a loan to buy a car or truck. Susan Tompor, Detroit Free Press, 31 July 2021 Sales to restaurants, office buildings and other institutions grew sharply, enough to offset a decline in sales to hospitals and other healthcare facilities. Evan Ramstad, Star Tribune, 27 July 2021 The money will be used to help offset the cost of medical bills, clothing, toiletries and other items, according to the page. Teri Webster, Dallas News, 26 July 2021 Although those funds are typically not enough to offset all costs, the lack of lunch distribution and tech resources left the Marianos wondering where the money went. Sunnie R. Clahchischiligi, USA TODAY, 14 July 2021 Although those funds are typically not enough to offset all costs, the lack of lunch distribution and tech resources left the Marianos wondering where the money went. Sunnie R. Clahchischiligi, Rolling Stone, 8 July 2021 Often, the company ends up offering money to offset its project's impact, Toso said. Star Tribune, 12 July 2021 Roughly half of the nearly $4 billion will be released as part of the American Rescue Plan Act, which was signed into law in March to help offset the pandemic's impact on the economy and public health. CBS News, 28 June 2021 When President Joe Biden signed the American Recovery Act in March, Polk said the district received preliminary allocation of approximately $43.6 million to help offset the impact of the pandemic. Steve Sadin,, 28 June 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Pour the mixture into the loaf pan and smooth out the top with a spoon or offset spatula. Washington Post, 30 July 2021 With rookie contracts slotted, overall money won’t be an issue, but payment of the signing bonus and offset language can sometimes be sticking points. Mary Kay Cabot, cleveland, 18 July 2021 Tradewater, a company that collects and destroys greenhouse gases and sells the carbon offset credits, is coordinating with governments and businesses around the world to dispose of the gases safely. Lindsey Mcginnis, The Christian Science Monitor, 11 May 2021 NetJets last week reported a 61 percent increase in Blue Skies enrollment, which allows members to purchase annual offset credits for their specific aircraft. Michael Verdon, Robb Report, 29 Apr. 2021 Such methods can also cut farmers’ fuel and chemical bills and even provide additional income from selling offset credits. Rochelle Toplensky, WSJ, 17 Mar. 2021 The state’s jobless rate stayed flat in June at 7.7%, as an expansion of the labor force offset job gains. Carly Olson, Los Angeles Times, 16 July 2021 Instead supervisors directed county staff to develop a new plan that is legally enforceable and doesn’t use carbon offset credits — which allow developers to pay for excessive emissions. San Diego Union-Tribune, 14 July 2021 To crumb coat a cake, add a small amount of icing to the sides and top of your cake, spreading with your bench scraper or offset spatula to cover the cake evenly. Zoe Denenberg, Southern Living, 1 July 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'offset.' 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 offset


1673, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a


circa 1555, in the meaning defined at sense 7b

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Time Traveler for offset

Time Traveler

The first known use of offset was circa 1555

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Dictionary Entries Near offset



offset arch

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Statistics for offset

Last Updated

3 Aug 2021

Cite this Entry

“Offset.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Aug. 2021.

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More Definitions for offset



English Language Learners Definition of offset

: to cancel or reduce the effect of (something) : to create an equal balance between two things


off·​set | \ ˈȯf-ˌset How to pronounce offset (audio) \
offset; offsetting

Kids Definition of offset

: to make up for Gains in one state offset losses in another.


off·​set | \ ˈȯf-ˌset How to pronounce offset (audio) \

Legal Definition of offset

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a claim or amount that reduces or balances another claim or amount : set-off the creditor's own debt was an offset also : the reduction or balance achieved by such a claim


transitive verb
off·​set | \ ˌȯf-ˈset How to pronounce offset (audio) \

Legal Definition of offset (Entry 2 of 2)

: to balance, reduce, or calculate by reference to another amount offset the debt against a credit

More from Merriam-Webster on offset

Nglish: Translation of offset for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of offset for Arabic Speakers


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