I am wondering what off here means in this line from the movie The Alamo and what is this usage. It's a scene of three Texans chatting about the Mexican army marching before them.

Man A: That's the best-dressed army I ever saw.

Man B: Fancy clothes don't make a fightin' man.

Man C: They're just off two years puttin' down revolts. They're fightin' men.

Prepositions are difficult. I have never see off used this way. What does it mean here?

  • My guess would be: "They're just off (for) two years puttin' down revolts." off meaning away. Haven't seen the movie though. – user3169 Aug 31 '18 at 3:09

There off means "having come from" or "having finished".

He's just off his shift at the coal mine and wants a shower and a hot meal.

Compare these uses of off a stint.

P.S. I include "off a stint" because two years putting down revolts is a way of referring to a stint of revolt-suppressing. Note the pattern:

eight hours washing dishes

two years experimenting with elastomers

all day painting fences

He had just come from eight hours washing dishes and didn't feel like studying for the final exam.

  • 1
    Yes, in other words, the Texans are saying the Mexican army isn't a bunch of inexperienced draftees, they've spent the past two years fighting other rebels. – pboss3010 Aug 31 '18 at 12:43

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