I am applying for a job and in my proposal my mentor commented the following. Please explain me what it means.

ME: Finally I found something promising. Please have a look

Mentor: That's a good find Atul :) These are good open source tools and we can use off-the-shelf.

What does 'we can use off the shelf' mean here?

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    Are you sure the phrase wasn't off-the-shelf? If you are involved in software off-the-shelf (OTS) tools are increasingly popular for medical device appications. (See SO discussion of off-the-shelf software development) – batpigandme May 23 '13 at 16:04
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    I'm sure it must be off-the-shelf, but the term is not restricted to software: it means anything 'ready made', in the sense that you can go into a shop/store, take it 'off the shelf', and buy it. – TrevorD May 23 '13 at 16:13
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    For garments, it's called "off-the-rack". :-) – Kristina Lopez May 23 '13 at 17:43
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    It's even in the dictionary -- just look up shelf. – Andrew Leach May 23 '13 at 17:43
  • It's even in the dictionary — just look up off-the-shelf. – RegDwigнt May 23 '13 at 22:44

While "off the shelf" does mean that something is sitting on the shelf in a store (as opposed to "custom made" or "custom ordered") for instant purchase, it also means that it is ready to be used for a task without alteration.


Off-the-shelf software used to refer to software you bought off-the-shelf in a software store strangely enough. This is clouded today with downloads and not much software being bought from stores, but in the context of your question, the mentor was meaning that you could use software that works straight away (and fit for purpose) without the need for configuration. Out-of-the-box is also used to similar effect.

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