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

Definition of offset

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a archaic : outset, start
b : cessation rapid regular beating of the heart … characterized by sudden onset and sudden offset— H. J. Stewart
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 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
4 : something that sets off to advantage or embellishes something else : foil The clown was a humorous offset in the play.
5 : an abrupt bend in an object (such as a pipe or a rod) by which one part is turned aside out of line
6 : 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
7a : unintentional transfer of ink (as from a freshly printed sheet)
b : 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


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

Definition of offset (Entry 2 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

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Other Words from offset


offset adjective or adverb

Examples of offset in a Sentence


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


Gains in one area offset losses in another. The limited storage space in the house is offset by the large garage.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

One strategy to deal with aircraft emissions is to purchase credits or offsets. Umair Irfan, Vox, "Air travel is a huge contributor to climate change. A new global movement wants you to be ashamed to fly.," 1 Aug. 2019 Utah, would restrict the authorization to 10 years; the other, from Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky, would require offsets for the money spent on the fund. NBC News, "Senate to vote on 9/11 first responders' bill Tuesday," 23 July 2019 President Trump and congressional leaders are nearing a deal that would raise the discretionary-spending caps by $320 billion over two years and offset less than one-quarter of those costs (and even those offsets would take a decade to materialize). Brian Riedl, National Review, "New Budget Deal Puts Final Nail in the Tea Party Coffin," 22 July 2019 Without guaranteed money to haggle over, the sticking points for NFL Draft picks under the current structure usually involve offsets and signing-bonus payments. Mark Inabinett |, al, "What’s the holdup on Quinnen Williams’ contract with New York Jets?," 18 July 2019 The developers of Adara said that the purchasing of offsets, as well as solar installations and electric vehicle charging ports on the development, would result in an environmentally friendly project. San Diego Union-Tribune, "San Diego supervisors narrowly approve Otay Ranch development over wildfire, climate concerns," 27 June 2019 Myint’s project advises food businesses on ways to reduce their carbon footprint, and even go carbon-neutral, through changes in operational efficiency, ingredients and carbon offsets. Linda Zavoral, The Mercury News, "San Francisco chef’s big win for climate change," 16 July 2019 Repeating this procedure with bit flips at various offsets in the page allows the researchers to recover enough bits to construct the full key. Dan Goodin, Ars Technica, "Researchers use Rowhammer bit flips to steal 2048-bit crypto key," 11 June 2019 Offset programs, critics say, let power plants and industry increase pollution in certain communities while buying offsets elsewhere, and have a troubled compliance record. Carolyn Kormann, The New Yorker, "How Rogue Republicans Killed Oregon’s Climate-Change Bill," 28 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Everything works together in perfect harmony: the crisp, watery cucumbers offsetting the salty peanuts; the crunchy toppings balancing the custardy consistency of the silken tofu. Emily Schultz, Bon Appétit, "I Douse Everything in Hot Sauce, But This Cooling Silken Tofu Won Me Over," 2 Aug. 2019 Strong production in the Permian Basin helped Exxon offset some of its losses. Orla Mccaffrey, Dallas News, "Exxon's chemical business drags down earnings days after fire at Baytown plant," 2 Aug. 2019 The Diamondbacks are reportedly sending $24 million to the Astros to help offset the remaining $70 million on Greinke’s six-year, $206.5-million contract, which runs through 2021. Mike Digiovanna, Los Angeles Times, "Astros’ acquisition of Zack Greinke trumps Yasiel Puig deal as trade deadline shocker," 31 July 2019 That comparison suggests travel expenses won’t rise much when the Huskies become independent and certainly shouldn’t offset the savings UConn expects from its other sports programs. Alex Putterman,, "What UMass can teach UConn about life as a football independent," 25 July 2019 Republicans ignored warnings from the Congressional Budget Office and other reputable economists that the tax cuts would not offset the deficit. Robert Costa, Anchorage Daily News, "Under Trump, GOP shrugs at deficit," 24 July 2019 But some lab studies suggest more food, such as algae, could help strengthen marine organisms’ shells, and thus offset some of the damage caused by ocean acidification. Katie Camero, Science | AAAS, "Ocean acidification could boost shell growth in marine life like snails and sea urchins," 23 July 2019 This helps the body adjust, and can offset caffeine’s diuretic effect. Cynthia Sass, Mph,, "Can the Coffee Diet Really Help With Weight Loss—and Is It Safe?," 19 July 2019 Using that for this example, the Raiders would owe Jacobs $1.317 million in 2022 instead of $2.122 million if his contract contains offset language. Mark Inabinett |, al, "What’s the holdup on Quinnen Williams’ contract with New York Jets?," 18 July 2019

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


circa 1555, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1673, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

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Statistics for offset

Last Updated

6 Aug 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for offset

The first known use of offset was circa 1555

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More Definitions for offset



Financial Definition of offset

What It Is

An offset is a transaction that cancels out the effects of another transaction.

How It Works

Offsetting transactions are common in options and futures markets. For example, let's say John Doe sells an option to buy 100 shares of Company XYZ with a strike price of $20 per share. The option expires in one year. Because John is locked into the contract, he cannot just ignore it. So, he enters into an offsetting transaction by buying an identical opposite transaction (buying an option to sell 100 shares of Company XYZ with a strike price of $20 that expires in one year). This offsets the risk he bears with the first option.

Why It Matters

Offsetting transactions are risk-management tools, and investors and companies use them when they cannot simply cancel the original transaction. In the derivatives markets, this happens when investors cannot accept a delivery of thousands of pounds of coffee from a futures contract, for example.

Source: Investing Answers



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.

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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
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

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More from Merriam-Webster on offset

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with offset

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for offset

Spanish Central: Translation of offset

Nglish: Translation of offset for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of offset for Arabic Speakers

Comments on offset

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of or relating to the heavens

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