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I am reading some technical documents and there is a list of items that make up the product. Throughout the document where there are multiple items, they are listed as 2 off, 3 off and so on.

For example it would be similar to this:

My product comprising of:

  • 2 off card 1
  • 1 off card 2
  • 1 off transit case

Is this correct? I thought it should be 2 of, 3 of and so on. I would like to know if the usage is correct and if possible why off is used in this context.

  • Needs more context. Can you cut and paste a couple of lines plus the intro? – Mitch Jul 1 '13 at 11:50
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    Yes, it is correct. It is a rather idiomatic use. Think one off. – Kris Jul 1 '13 at 12:01
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    @Mitch it is a standard phrase common in the given context (technical documents). – Kris Jul 1 '13 at 12:01
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    @Kris: Your answer talks about 'one-off' as a noun, but I don't yet see that in the OP. That is why I ask for an example in context. A listing with '3 off'? That doesn't yet seem to fit for me. – Mitch Jul 1 '13 at 13:00
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    @Kris: It'd be easier to follow this...if I had some context! – Mitch Jul 1 '13 at 13:13
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BEN ZIMMER, On Language The Origins of ‘One-Off’:
The New York Times (Magazine) July 2, 2010

… this British usage of off typically appears with a number to indicate a quantity of items produced in some manufacturing process. The Oxford English Dictionary, … takes this back to a 1934 quotation from the Proceedings of the Institute of British Foundrymen: "A splendid one-off pattern can be swept up in a very little time." Other numbers can fit the bill, as in the O.E.D.'s 1973 example of an advertisement for "Kienzle printers, 6 off, surplus to manufacturing requirements.

"Though some Americans might still find one-off annoyingly British-sounding, there's no need to fear it as a solecism. It's a well-manufactured word, even if it feels a little off-kilter. [emphasis mine]

I think that is quite self-explanatory.

  • Thank you for the answer. That seems to be what is being used here and it is good to know where it has come from. – Firedragon Jul 1 '13 at 12:10
  • Incidentally, Ben explained it pretty well saving us a lot of effort. Thank Ben, not I. :) – Kris Jul 1 '13 at 12:12
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Manufacturing lines run X qty of product "off" their line to fill an order. Customer wants 20 wheels? We run 20 wheels off the line... = 20 off. This ends up on requisitions or PO's as "20 off" and gets adopted outside the original environment where it becomes confusing. EG - engineers who write "columns requires 3 off M20 bolts" etc...

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