Idioms & Phrases


Leave, depart, especially suddenly, as in Don't go off mad, or They went off without saying goodbye. [c. 1600]

  1. Keep to the expected plan or course of events, succeed, as in The project went off smoothly. [Second half of 1700s]

  2. Deteriorate in quality, as in This milk seems to have gone off. [Late 1600s]

  3. Die. Shakespeare used this sense in Macbeth (5:9): "I would the friends we missed were safely arrived.Some must go off."

  4. Experience orgasm. D.H. Lawrence used this slangy sense in Lady Chatterley's Lover (1928): "You couldn't go off at the same time...." This usage is probably rare today. Also see get off, def. 8.

  5. go off on a tangent. See under on a tangent.

  6. go off one's head. See off one's head. Also see subsequent idioms beginning with go off.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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