I’m going for a long walk off a short pier

I suppose this sentence means that the speaker is going to walk along a pier. Is "a walk off" here means a casual walk? Or maybe preposition "off" has a meaning I am not aware about.

Dictionaries define "walk-off" only as a baseball term.

Could you clarify the meaning of this sentence?

  • The ultra-dismissive imperative / rhetorical question [Why don't you] take a long walk off a short pier goes back to Post-WW2 US colloquial / slang. Similar to Drop dead!, Go and boil your head! and more coarsely Just fuck off and die! We don't have the full context for OP's example, but it's almost certainly "facetious". If the speaker really meant what he said, it would be equivalent to something along the lines of I'm so miserable I'm going to commit suicide - but given it's inherently a jocular usage, I don't think he'd use the "quirky image" in that case anyway. – FumbleFingers Feb 11 at 18:03
  • To walk, step, run, jump etc off something is to do so in such a way that you are no longer on that thing. – SamBC Feb 11 at 18:20

a long walk off a short pier

Here is a cute little image to demonstrate: the image shows somebody taking a long walk off a short pier

Is used in 2 ways

  1. As in your question to humorously say you are really fed up and are going to drown yourself in the sea. Nobody would ever expect you to actually do this or be concerned for your safety.
  2. To tell somebody who is annoying you to do this "Go and take a long walk off a short pier" This is a bit more serious as the speaker is angry, but once again it wouldn't be taken seriously as a threat of harm by anybody. The Goats head - book excerpt

@Mixolydian is correct. I am only adding another answer to emphasise that the idiomatic use is really the only use of this phrase you will ever find in normal English.

It is usually used by a person as a semi-humorous insult towards another person. "Go and take a long walk off [or on] a short pier" means "get lost", or "go and drown yourself".

In the OP's context, the author is directing this criticism at themselves, probably in a self-deprecating way. Depending on context it could be light and humorous or very dark and literally referring to suicide. "I'm sick of myself - I'm going to take a long walk off a short pier."

Finally, I'll mention that I'm more used to the phrase as "Take a long walk on a short pier". It means the same thing, but arguably emphasises the humour better. It is impossible to take a long walk on a short pier ... so you fall off the end and into the sea.

  • In British English we sometimes talk of "walking off" a heavy meal, or possibly slightly too many alcoholic drinks, by which we mean walking for the purpose of exercise to avoid a sluggish, sleepy feeling. – Michael Harvey Feb 11 at 19:54
  • True, but unless you eat a pier, it would be hard to walk one off! – fred2 Feb 11 at 23:54

Consider "off" to mean "from". To move off something is to leave it.


This is my interpretation: "This pier is short, but I am going to walk for longer than the length of the pier - so that I end up in the water." Like, the implication is that the speaker intends to jump off the pier and drown. (Nothing to do with baseball - "walk-off" is unrelated to this sentence. To walk off a pier is to walk past the end of it.)

EDIT: above is the literal interpretation. For the idiomatic meaning, see: https://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/take+a+long+walk+off+a+short+pier

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