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 But Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro argues the nation and its people can hardly afford to shut down after years of sluggish growth, sky-high unemployment and with little fiscal wiggle room to offset the economic fallout. Jessica Brice,, "Brazil Reports Almost 70,000 New Covid Infections in Record Day," 30 July 2020 But Thompson says hardware improvements are unlikely to offset the striking rise in compute needed for cutting edge advances in areas like self-driving cars and real-time voice translation. Will Knight, Wired, "Prepare for Artificial Intelligence to Produce Less Wizardry," 11 July 2020 In an effort to offset the inequities, OCCUR, which was founded in 1954, has started a Black Business Relief Fund that offers mini grants. Rusty Simmons,, "Oakland organization focuses on struggles of Black-owned businesses amid pandemic," 9 July 2020 Here are some recent developments: The U.S. economy added 4.8 million jobs in June, a surge that has more than offset massive and persistent layoffs. Jessica Flores, USA TODAY, "Coronavirus updates: US surpasses 52K daily cases; Jersey Shore open, California beaches closed for July 4th; Texas mask mandate begins," 4 July 2020 But the feds have revised the guidance and will now allow cities to use relief funds to offset public safety payroll costs. Jessica Boehm, The Arizona Republic, "Phoenix will use federal COVID-19 relief funds to balance its shaky budget," 2 July 2020 The personal protective equipment credits can be used to offset the company's income tax, and any leftovers can cover payroll tax liabilities. Nyamekye Daniel, Washington Examiner, "PPE tax incentive bill for Georgia businesses on Brian Kemp's desk," 1 July 2020 The delivery giant also experienced a jump in international cargo during the fiscal fourth quarter, helping to offset the significant decline in commercial shipments as thousands of businesses closed due to broad lockdowns. FedEx... Paul Ziobro And Allison Prang, WSJ, "FedEx Reports Better-Than-Expected Revenue as Residential Deliveries Surge," 30 June 2020 The organization helps to offset the cost of traveling the national circuit and with lodging and entry fees, Kasee said. Ed Wittenberg, cleveland, "Chagrin Falls High School’s Haines and Mills crowned top debaters in nation," 26 June 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Plenty of owners will probably arrive at this look via bigger tires and a different wheel offset, but the Ford dealer isn't going to sell it to you this way. Ezra Dyer, Car and Driver, "2021 Ford Bronco Details We’ve Uncovered," 6 July 2020 With a tableware knife or offset spatula, spread the dulce de leche almost to the edges. Washington Post, "Alfajores (Cornstarch Cookies With Dulce de Leche)," 2 July 2020 The best way to ensure proper fit is to buy wheels with the correct offset and spacing, but these are a popular and cheap alternative. Austin Irwin, Car and Driver, "The Wildest Truck Accessories That Drive Us Nuts," 20 June 2020 The other rule that so many people misunderstand is the government pension offset, or GPO. Tom Margenau, Dallas News, "Clearing up confusion: Social Security offsets affect some public employees," 31 May 2020 Such offset language, where the salary of any job taken within the term of the contract is subtracted from the remaining cost of the buyout, is common in college coaching contracts. Dan Wolken, USA TODAY, "Former Arkansas coach Bret Bielema files lawsuit against Razorback Foundation alleging it violated buyout agreement," 12 June 2020 But a non-Social Security retirement pension causes only a three-for-two offset. Tom Margenau, Dallas News, "Clearing up confusion: Social Security offsets affect some public employees," 31 May 2020 That gives the government an incentive to see the value of carbon on such offset markets remain high. The Economist, "Fighting climate change The world urgently needs to expand its use of carbon prices," 23 May 2020 If Congress didn’t come up with any offsets and financed the spending with debt, economic growth would contract by 24% over the next four decades. Laura Davison,, "Medicare for All Could Grow the Economy—Or Cause Financial Havoc," 20 May 2020

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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Statistics for offset

Last Updated

2 Aug 2020

Cite this Entry

“Offset.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 9 Aug. 2020.

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More Definitions for offset


How to pronounce offset (audio)

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
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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for offset

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with offset

Spanish Central: Translation of offset

Nglish: Translation of offset for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of offset for Arabic Speakers

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