I am trying to translate a dialogue into English. Which is idiomatic:

— Are they going to put off the wedding till May?
— Yes, they couldn't get it organized any earlier.

— Are they going to hold off the wedding till May?
— Yes, they couldn't get it organized any earlier.

If both sound ok, what's the difference then?

  • Obviously in your context they mean the same thing. But relatively speaking, hold off is incredibly uncommon (it's mostly just "corporate speak" for delayed, suspended). Commented Apr 19 at 19:38
  • hold off is not incredibly uncommon. He held off on answering the questions but was pleasant otherwise. MW: : to block from an objective : DELAY 2: to defer action on : POSTPONE, hold off a decision. OR to refrain from doing something.
    – Lambie
    Commented Apr 19 at 21:21
  • In AmE, we say hold off on something versus impede someone: hold off
    – Lambie
    Commented May 19 at 20:21

1 Answer 1


They both mean to delay something in this context. However, "put off" suggests something has caused the delay while "hold off" usually means that a required condition has not been met.

For example:

  • We have decided to put off the event until next week as it is raining this week.

  • We have decided to hold off the event until my friend can make it.

In your example, as existing delays/unreadiness is the cause, 'put off' seems more appropriate. However, you could make the unreadiness a future condition by saying "they are holding off until they are fully organised".

  • They held off the bandits at the entrance to the hacienda. BUT: They held off on the wedding for another six months.
    – Lambie
    Commented May 19 at 20:20

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