According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, one of the meanings of "to lay off" is :

to lay off : to leave undisturbed.

How would this definition fit within the context "to lay off of him" for example ?

1 Answer 1


I think the context you are referring to means to leave someone alone or to stop bothering or even stop hurting/attacking someone.

Person 1: "It's Person 2's fault!"
Person 3: "Hey, lay off him!"

"Lay off of someone" is just an idiomatic variation. It sounds more like AmEng than BrEng to me and in my opinion not grammatically correct (or at the very least is a tautology), but from my experience of US culture, it is commonly spoken.

In a very different context "lay-off" can also mean to terminate someone's employment, although this would normally be phrased "lay someone off".

  • Would "lay off him" have the same meaning ? Meaning, is the "of" in this context mandatory ?
    – Norbert
    Apr 30, 2019 at 10:13
  • 1
    @Norbert I've just added that into my answer - it means the same, it is just an idiomatic variation, not grammatically correct in my opinion, but colloquial.
    – Astralbee
    Apr 30, 2019 at 10:18
  • Lay off of him sounds grammatical to me. In fact, not using the preposition doesn't fit standard grammatical constructions. It's lie on top of him (not lie on top him) or get down from him (not get down him). Dropping the preposition is idiomatic—but far from necessary. May 1, 2019 at 6:55
  • @JasonBassford You never hear it in BrEng, it seems like an Americanism. It isn't the same as "get down from", because there are different levels of "down". Getting "off something" doesn't allow for any half-measure and the "of" is redundant. See: en.wiktionary.org/wiki/off_of
    – Astralbee
    May 1, 2019 at 9:04

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