It seems that British people often use "Off" to mean "not polite or friendly" or "not acceptable".

Off (adj)

-​off (with somebody) (informal, especially British English) not polite or friendly

He was a bit off with me this morning.

​-(informal, especially British English) not acceptable

It's a bit off expecting us to work on Sunday.

But "not acceptable" is ambiguous because any bad thing can be unacceptable. Weird or eccentric behaviors or crazy actions can be unacceptable. For example,

She's a bit off today. She's wearing warm clothes on a hot day

My wife's a bit off today. She's been shouting at me all morning

This man is very off. He is running around naked in his garden

Also, Do American people say like that?

Do we use "off" for virtually all bad actions (such as weird or eccentric behaviors) in American and British English?

1 Answer 1


"Off" isn't used for extreme examples, but for things that are slightly deviant. "A bit off" seems like the usual expression. I've never heard "very off".

None of your examples under "not acceptable" sound right to me with "off" as an adjective.

(I'm a US speaker. Maybe a British speaker will have a different view.)

  • +1 Other than as humorous understatement ("he murdered four people, which strikes me as slightly off") British speakers wouldn't use "off" to refer to extreme or violent or criminal acts. It is usually qualified either as "a bit" or "slightly" or as the speaker's subjective viewpoint ("that strikes me as off" or "I find that off").
    – rjpond
    Oct 5, 2020 at 8:43
  • "Very off" is an oxymoron in itself. 1) and 2) I could see being used, but they carry a bit of an implication that you're using "off" to mean "unwell, sick" - particularly "mentally unwell". If your wife has been shouting at you all day, you're better off not letting her hear you calling her "a bit off"... Oct 5, 2020 at 8:48
  • UK milk and perishable food can go (or be) off. Oct 5, 2020 at 11:26
  • True, @MichaelHarvey - although I think of that as a different sub-sense of "off".
    – rjpond
    Oct 5, 2020 at 13:14
  • If something is a bit 'off' about an expenses claim, invoice, balance sheet, explanation, etc, then it figuratively smells a bit rotten or distasteful. It is suspicious. Oct 5, 2020 at 14:25

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