The definition of see someone off is the following:

to accompany one to the point of departure for a trip and say good-bye upon departure.

However, that begs the question what does "see himself off" mean? Does it mean "accompany himself to the point of departure for a trip and say goodbye to himself"? That doesn't really make any sense, but I have heard the expression a dozen of time.

  • It doesn't 'beg' the question; it raises it. May 20, 2019 at 11:46
  • @MichaelHarvey Beg the question has become idiomatic. It even has its own dictionary sense: "1 : to elicit a question logically as a reaction or response // the quarterback's injury begs the question of who will start in his place." Nor is this limited to the US. Per Oxford Dictionaries: "1 (of a fact or action) raise a point that has not been dealt with; invite an obvious question. ‘some definitions of mental illness beg the question of what constitutes normal behaviour’ May 20, 2019 at 15:44
  • I still don't like it. May 20, 2019 at 16:14

1 Answer 1


Actually, yes, that's what it means and I agree, it doesn't make much sense when taken literally.

When this phrase is used it's usually to highlight the fact that nobody else is there to say goodbye to the person. They are alone in their departure and the writer wants to call attention to this fact without saying it literally. It emphasizes the solitude and loneliness of the situation to say it this way.

We have another similar phrase, 'to cry oneself to sleep' which means that a person goes to sleep after crying alone in bed. They have to deal with whatever suffering they've experienced that day by themselves, with nobody to talk to about it or comfort them.

  • 2
    In Britain, when a visitor leaves a house, without being accompanied to the door by the person who they were visiting, they can be said to 'see themselves out'. May 20, 2019 at 11:47

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