We're away over (= until after) the New Year. (OALD, over, preposition #10)

Over means "during something" (OALD #10) or "throughout or during (a particular amount of time)" (Merriam-Webster’s, preposition #10). Why does OALD say "until after" in the case above? Does "the New Year" refer to a day (or more days) as a holiday?


New Year is the first day of the year, which for the Gregorian calendar is January 1. In most countries, that is a holiday.

The sentence shown by the OALD ("We are away over the New Year.") implies "We will return after the New Year." Rephrasing this sentence to use be away, it becomes "We are away until after the New Year." This is not different from the following sentences.

They didn't reach the border until after dark.

He refused to comment until after the trial.

You cannot legally take possession of the property until after the contract is signed.

Until means "up to the point in time or the event mentioned"; in "until after the New Year" the point in time is "after the New Year."

  • 1
    Agreed about the end point, but there is perhaps a question concerning the start point. Over the New Year implies a number of days covering the holiday period (perhaps including Christmas, perhaps not) but either way it's likely a restricted period starting before the New Year. Until after the New Year could mean a wider range of start times, perhaps even from right now if the speaker is already away and it is already, say, December. I'm not saying there's no overlap in meaning but to me there's a different nuance/emphasis. – toandfro Feb 25 '14 at 20:36

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