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

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
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Milwaukee County officials have said a new source of revenue is critical to offset stagnant revenue sharing from the state. Vanessa Swales, Journal Sentinel, 29 Sep. 2022 The chain has raised prices to offset some of those higher costs. Will Feuer, WSJ, 27 Sep. 2022 Whether Netflix can make enough money from ads to offset slowdowns in subscriber growth is anyone’s guess. Wendy Lee, Los Angeles Times, 27 Sep. 2022 The decrease helps to offset last year's $21.60 spike, which was driven in large part by a new Alzheimer's drug, Aduhelm, administered intravenously in doctors' offices and introduced to the market last year with a $56,000 price tag. Amanda Seitz, ajc, 27 Sep. 2022 The decrease helps to offset last year’s $21.60 spike, which was driven in large part by a new Alzheimer’s drug, Aduhelm, administered intravenously in doctors’ offices and introduced to the market last year with a $56,000 price tag. Amanda Seitz,, 27 Sep. 2022 The trail’s southern terminus is 1.5-acre parking area to be developed on state trust land inside the Red Cliff Desert Reserve, in an area that was specifically set aside for tortoises to offset the loss of habitat elsewhere. Brian Maffly, The Salt Lake Tribune, 27 Sep. 2022 To offset this disadvantage, Honda, Hyundai, and Toyota have all offered their lessees and buyers free hydrogen fuel for various periods. John Voelcker, Car and Driver, 26 Sep. 2022 These figures do not reflect any donations given to universities to offset the costs of buyouts. Nic Napier And Nadia Scharf, The Indianapolis Star, 23 Sep. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Add the cake batter, smoothing the top with an offset spatula or spoon. San Diego Union-Tribune, 28 Sep. 2022 Using an offset spatula, drag the frosting down to make two bunny ears. Andrea Beck, Better Homes & Gardens, 21 Sep. 2022 Step 3Pour batter into prepared pan; smooth top with a rubber or offset spatula. People Staff,, 2 Aug. 2022 Without independent oversight, offset projects can also lead to human-rights abuses. Cathleen O'grady, The Atlantic, 20 May 2022 The first offset smoker that Beilke saw, the sort typically favored by serious barbecue folks, was a small one that his father had for making ribs. Carol Deptolla, Journal Sentinel, 29 June 2022 With a knife or offset spatula, spread top with frosting. Ina Garten, Better Homes & Gardens, 9 Aug. 2022 That’s an excellent way to balance risk and return, to ride waves of economic growth and offset losses from individual companies that sink beneath them. James Taranto, WSJ, 9 Aug. 2022 Another factor that could play a role and has been conspicuously absent from policy discussions is the potential for volume offset. Joshua Cohen, Forbes, 2 Aug. 2022 See More

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.

First Known Use of offset


1673, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a


circa 1555, in the meaning defined at sense 7b

Learn More About offset

Time Traveler for offset

Time Traveler

The first known use of offset was circa 1555

See more words from the same year

Dictionary Entries Near offset



offset arch

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for offset

Last Updated

2 Oct 2022

Cite this Entry

“Offset.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 Oct. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for offset


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


Test Your Vocabulary

The Great British Vocabulary Quiz

  • union jack speech bubble
  • Named after Sir Robert Peel, what are British police called?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!