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


Gains in one area offset losses in another. The limited storage space in the house is offset by the large garage.


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

The company said in a statement that the attacks cut its output by 5.7 million barrels per day and the loss would be offset by stockpiles. Dalvin Brown, USA TODAY, "Will the drone strikes in Saudi Arabia impact gas prices? Experts say yes.," 15 Sep. 2019 But the particulate emissions of crop production have actually gone down substantially, but this drop has largely been offset by a rise in particulates emitted by livestock. John Timmer, Ars Technica, "The fall of coal and its pollution-linked deaths is boosting the economy," 10 Sep. 2019 While the renovations will remove some seats, the stadium's capacity won't be affected because it those seats will be offset by more standing room space. Matt Young, Houston Chronicle, "Astros removing Minute Maid Park seats, selling them to public," 9 Sep. 2019 But as it was brought to the floor, Paul objected, saying the funding for the bill needed to be offset by cutting other spending. Lucas Aulbach, The Courier-Journal, "From 'guttersnipe' to 'scalawag,' Jon Stewart's feud with Kentucky senators continues," 24 July 2019 Paul said he was concerned about its effect on the deficit, and said any new spending should be offset by spending cuts elsewhere. Time, "Senate Overwhelmingly Passes Bill Expanding 9/11 Victims' Compensation Fund," 23 July 2019 New Relic’s rapid growth over the past several years has helped offset the absence of new, large tech employers emerging from Portland’s startup scene and kept the city’s tech economy growing. Mike Rogoway, oregonlive, "New Relic’s top Portland exec quits as outlook cools again," 16 Sep. 2019 While Ball’s health declined this summer, his family launched a GoFundMe page to raise $50,000 to help offset the cost of his care. Edgar Thompson,, "Former Florida Gators LB Neiron Ball dies at age 27," 11 Sep. 2019 Offensive coordinator Tim Beck said his speed – Johnson was clocked running 21 miles per hour – and twitch have helped offset some of the unfamiliarity. Nick Moyle, Houston Chronicle, "Texas QB Roschon Johnson willing to sacrifice redshirt to help at RB," 30 Aug. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The money paid to buy offsets supports programs designed to reduce emissions. Elizabeth Paton, New York Times, "Gucci Vies to Be Even Greener," 12 Sep. 2019 Industry figures suggest that air travel will increase dramatically in coming years, a scenario that has prompted some to call for investment in carbon offsets to reduce deforestation and other environmental projects. Joshua Emerson Smith, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Backstory: Flight shaming and carbon offsets," 15 Sep. 2019 The higher rate offsets investments by transmission companies, according to Texas-New Mexico Power, which provides service in Friendswood, League City, Texas City, La Marque and Angleton. L.m. Sixel, Houston Chronicle, "Electricity costs more in Houston as transmission, distribution charges rise," 3 Sep. 2019 In the 1980s, the supply offset came from Europe — the North Sea. Ken Fisher, USA TODAY, "Why oil price swings won't burn America's economy or your 401(k)," 25 Aug. 2019 Even a quarter-inch offset in a collision sequence could result in a significant reduction in injury to the person. Eric Tegler, Popular Mechanics, "What Happens When a Drone Crashes Into Your Face?," 22 Aug. 2019 With other offsets available for as low as $0.28 per metric ton, why does Climeworks think people will pay such a steep price? Akshat Rathi, Quartz, "You can now pay to turn your carbon emissions to stone," 8 Aug. 2019 And no matter how much recycled material or carbon offsets go into a smartphone, the device can still wind up in a landfill just a year or two after purchase. Anna Washenko, Ars Technica, "Google publishes sustainability plan for hardware, but its impact is uncertain," 5 Aug. 2019 The percentage of allowable offsets is a controversial number in environmental policy. Bloomberg, The Mercury News, "How California can help save Brazil’s burning rainforests," 28 Aug. 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


1673, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a


circa 1555, in the meaning defined at sense 7b

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Statistics for offset

Last Updated

16 Oct 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

What made you want to look up offset? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to be made up of

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