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I checked out the recent updates to the OED (Oxford English Dictionary) and noticed a new verb to have off that I couldn't figure out the exact meaning of.

My questions are:

  1. Is to have off have the same meaning as to have away?

  2. Can anyone tell me the usage of to have off in “real” English?

Note: I already know the meaning of to have it off.

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    Please stop putting spaces before sentence-ending punctuation in English. Also, please avoid over-formatting. – tchrist Apr 4 '15 at 15:33
  • Well, ODO answers this, I think. OED has a bit more historical data, but ODO certainly lists the current prevailing meaning. – Andrew Leach Apr 4 '15 at 15:44
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    @AndrewLeach AFAIK. to have it off and to have off have different meanings (they certainly do in the U.S.). – RBarryYoung Apr 4 '15 at 15:49
  • This question needs to be reframed to clarify the question. A standard google search of have off and have away, both direct to the sexual definition only. – ScotM Apr 4 '15 at 15:59
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    @RBarryYoung The OED shows have it off with two meanings, one of which means to have sexual intercourse and the other meaning associated with success in a criminal enterprise. But the OED does not have an entry for have off and I'm struggling to think of a context, other than e.g. had the day off. – WS2 Apr 4 '15 at 15:59
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OED's entry for to have off, as of March 2015, is (abridged):

to have off

  1. trans. colloq. to have it off rare in U.S. use.

    a. Criminals' slang. To successfully carry out a crime, esp. a robbery or burglary. Cf. sense 3. Now rare.

    1977 ‘E. Crispin’ Glimpses of Moon xii. 235 He had had it off all right, thanks..to making careful reccys.

    b. To have sexual intercourse (with a person). Cf. sense 2.

    1982 M. Leigh Goose-pimples ii, in Abigail's Party & Goose-pimples (1983) 151, I know about you two. I know you've been having it off.

  2. trans. colloq. To have sexual intercourse with. Cf. sense 1b. rare.

    1970 Irish Times 5 June 7/2 He had her off at that time probably in his hotel at Dungloe, or he had her in a caravan at Bundoran.

  3. trans. colloq. To steal (something); to rob (a person). Cf. sense 1a.

    2004 G. Johnson Powder Wars (2005) iii. 32 I'd got into robbing wagons... Mostly they were parked up and we'd just have them off. Sell the vehicle.

The following applies to .

All of thoses senses are common to have it away, and in almost all cases off can be replaced with away. The quote in 1b (→ "I know you've been having it away") sounds rather quaint. Having it off generally refers to sex and is rather more vulgar than having it away. When referring to stealing, have it away is more easily understood than off.

Have it off is almost always sexual. Have it away is usually non-sexual unless the context allows that.

As OED notes, both forms are at best colloquial; in my experience have [it] off is rather more vulgar than using away.

  • Has to have it off the same meaning as to have off? – MCHAppy Apr 4 '15 at 16:12
  • Yes; but to have off as a phrasal verb is rare, unless one says "I have next week off," when it means "away from work" -- even then the idea of "stealing" that time for yourself is not entirely irrelevant. – Andrew Leach Apr 4 '15 at 16:17
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As far as I know, "I have off " means that I have time-off from work. It's usually expressed like: "She has off next week."

  • Or "She has next week off". This does exist in the US. – GEdgar Apr 4 '15 at 16:15
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    Would you really ever say, “She has off next week”? That sounds extremely wrong to me, and I would probably assume if I saw it written that the writer was a non-native speaker. I have never heard it used as a phrasal verb. I would either say, “She has next week off” or “She is off next week”. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Apr 4 '15 at 17:19
  • @Janus Perhaps the MWV is marginally non-mandatorily separable for very weighty objects (She has off alternate Fridays for the months of May, June, August and November, together with the fourth Thursday in every month.) But then again ... – Edwin Ashworth Apr 4 '15 at 18:35
  • @EdwinAshworth Even then, just … no. “She has alternate Fridays off for the months of May, June…”, no problem; but I simply cannot force my brain not to bat its internal eyelashes at the other version. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Apr 4 '15 at 18:38
  • Quite a few relevant Google hits for "she has off every". – Edwin Ashworth Apr 4 '15 at 18:51
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It seems that the phrases have it off and have it away have the same definition on ODO:

British vulgar slang Have sexual intercourse.

Macmillan concurs:

have it off (with someone)
to have sex with someone

have it away (with someone)
to have sex with someone

Three's a charm with Cambridge:

have it off
(also have it away) UK slang
to have sex:
He was having it off with his friend's wife.

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    The OP was asking about to have off, not to have it off. AFAIK, they are different. – RBarryYoung Apr 4 '15 at 15:50
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    @RBarryYoung I’m not aware of to have off meaning anything as an intransitive phrasal verb. To have off is the main subentry in the OED that the asker is referring to, because entries are always given with no arguments; but the only examples given are transitive, with generic dummy objects (as in have it off). The meaning in having time off is found under off, 4.d.: “Away or free from one's work, school, service, etc.” and that’s not normally a phrasal verb. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Apr 4 '15 at 17:15
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    @JanusBahsJacquet As I pointed out in the comments to my answer, this usage is very common in the U.S. In fact, in my experience, it is more common than the more formal versions you suggested. – RBarryYoung Apr 5 '15 at 0:09

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