In a TV show, more exactly Scorpion there's a phrase

... the access panel is off the third level.

What does this mean? I can't seem to understand what's the place of "off" in this sentence.

  • Good question but needs more context. I suspect that it's kind of synecdochic for "you get there via the third level" or even "you get there by exiting the elevator at the third level". Commented Jun 10, 2017 at 13:23
  • Consider the dictionary definition of off. Look under preposition, definition 2. (Note that the numbering restarts for each part of speech in this dictionary.)
    – Lawrence
    Commented Jun 10, 2017 at 15:02
  • I'd say the relevant "implied referent" for off in the cited context is a stairwell or lift shaft (to get to the access panel, go to that level, and you'll find it "off to one side" when you start moving horizontally rather than vertically). Commented Jun 10, 2017 at 15:13
  • The access panel is [at some place] off the third level. Off means attached to or starting at.
    – Lambie
    Commented Jun 10, 2017 at 16:05
  • To perhaps add to the answers, a simpler example might be "I'm getting off the train", which means you are leaving the train.
    – paddotk
    Commented Jun 10, 2017 at 17:48

2 Answers 2


This is an idiomatic expression that means the object is located on, near, or at that location. It is common in American English, although I don't know if it's common to other English dialects.

Some other examples:

The shop is just off of First Street, down by the waterfront.

The detective parked off of the access road and walked the rest of the way to the house, so that the suspects wouldn't hear the sound of his car.

There's another bathroom just off of the stairway on the second floor.


This is a form of M-W's first definition of "off": from a place or position.

The form:

The destination is "off" X

serves as shorthand directions to the destination. It is in the form of a landmark you can easily find, that is close enough to the destination to at least be helpful. The landmark serves as the "starting point" when you get there (the place or position in the "from a place or position).

Examples of how this is typically used:

  • When you get to the place, the destination will be close-by and obvious.

    ... the access panel is off the third level.

  • If the context is that you are trying to find the destination on a map, the mentioned place might be a major road that is easy to spot. Finding that road would identify the vicinity of the destination, which should then be easy to spot on the map.

    Maple Street is off Main Street downtown.

  • Getting to that place will put you to the right neighborhood and you can ask someone local there for the final directions to the destination.

    It's in that new subdivision off Main Street on the west side of town.

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