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Thread: Why 'well off'?

  1. #1
    Haihao is offline Junior Member
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    Default Why 'well off'?

    Hello, Sir/Ma'am,

    I am not sure if it caould be called an idiom, but the phrase 'well off' or 'better off' always stimulates my curiosity. IMO 'well' could refer to healthy or in a good way while 'off' suggests a separated state. Could you please tell me what the picture is for 'well off' meaning richly or something like that?

    Thank you.

    haihao from Japan

  2. #2
    mykwyner is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: Why 'well off'?

    One of the meanings of off is circumstanced. It is chiefly used this way in phrases like: better off, worse off, well off, etc.

  3. #3
    Haihao is offline Junior Member
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    Default Re: Why 'well off'?

    Thank you for the tip. That way can I see this 'off' as somewhere around the meaning of 'out' = stand out of the average 'well' = the richer?

  4. #4
    mykwyner is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: Why 'well off'?

    Sorry, but this meaning of off doesn't really match up to any of its other meanings. Maybe one of the other teachers in another time zone will have the energy to do the etymological research and tell us both why.

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    Default Re: Why 'well off'?

    Can I have more clarifications here: when you say "he's better now", how different is it from saying "he's better off now"?

  6. #6
    mykwyner is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: Why 'well off'?

    "He's better now," usually means that he was not well before.

    "He's better off now," means that his circumstances are better now.

  7. #7
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    curmudgeon is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: Why 'well off'?

    Go here and all will be revealed (hopefully)

    BBC World Service | Learning English | Learn it

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    Default Re: Why 'well off'?

    this was helpful.

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