I've read some description of certain house design as below:

Living and dining rooms are towards the front with kitchens to the rear, with bedrooms either off the hallway or upstairs if it's a two-storey terrace.

and here's the corresponding house plan: enter image description here

the definition of "off" in google: enter image description here

as I understand, and which can be seen from the floor design, "bedrooms are off the hallway" sort of indicates that bedrooms are separated by and adjacent to the hallway, and here "off" is preposition, but I'm not sure which one of the two preposition definitions fits it.

The definition "situated or leading in a direction away from (a main route or intersection)." seems close but I think it's used to describe something not adjacent to the main route such as in "my house is off the main road", which is obviously not the case in above house plan example.

Thanks in advance for your help!

  • 3
    For accessibility, you should paste the entry (with attribution) instead of posting a picture of the text. Nov 15 at 14:59
  • Yes, you access all five bedrooms directly from the corridor: "leading in a direction away from" that hallway. From is the closest of the definitions you listed, but off is one of those polysemous words with endless meanings, close but distinct. Nov 15 at 15:39
  • 2
    Merriam-Webster has unmistakably pertinent examples: << off [2 of 6] [preposition] 1a —used as a function word to indicate physical separation or distance from a position of rest, attachment, or union • take it off the table • a path off the main walk • a shop just off the main street >> CD generalises this usage to 'near to' << • He lives just off the main road. • It's an island off the east coast of Spain. >>. Often, one dictionary is better than another. Nov 15 at 17:08
  • 1
    "Off" can be used like this to give a sense of routing as well as proximity.
    – Darryl
    Nov 15 at 17:16
  • What do you want? Are you specifically looking for a reference to a dictionary, or do you just want a description of what "off" means in this case?
    – Stuart F
    Nov 15 at 17:18

2 Answers 2


From the OED:

off adverb, preposition, noun, & adjective
II. Of position.
II.8. Opening or turning out of; next to, leading from, not far from.
Source: Oxford English Dictionary (login required)

Here are some selected samples shown there:

1845   In Mary's little room (off my uncle's).
1860   In a small street off one of the west-central squares.
1929   Four rooms opened off it; at any moment a door might be opened, or blow open, sending a draught down one's neck.
1966   I'll show you your room. There's a shower off it.

  • The "next to" definition seems the most accurate one, thanks to all of you linguisticians :)
    – mzoz
    Nov 15 at 22:41

Google is only giving a limited number of the most common definitions. In a more complete dictionary, a "simple" word like off can have dozens of definitions and usages. For example, dictionary.com gives 31 prepositional usages for off, not just the 4 given in the google result. Among them you will find this one:

  1. leading into or away from:

    an alley off 12th Street

This is still not accurately describing the usage you are asking about since the "rooms off the hallway" don't really lead to the hallway but rather the hallway leads to the rooms. Nonetheless this turned-about usage is fairly common when discussing building layouts.

  • "bedrooms away from the hallway" is odd because it isn't used often, but it would exactly match the usage above. I think you're being a bit hard on yourself by thinking it's not accurately describing the usage above.
    – Edwin Buck
    Nov 15 at 17:31
  • @EdwinBuck, I didn't write the entry on dictionary.com. They're the ones I meant hadn't captured the usage exactly.
    – The Photon
    Nov 15 at 17:37
  • I didn't think you wrote the entries in Dictionary.com. I thought you used an entry that exactly represents what is being said. The rooms are away from the hallway, as opposed to being in the hallway.
    – Edwin Buck
    Nov 15 at 18:02
  • @EdwinBuck it's the word "leading" that makes the definition not fit this usage exactly. The hallway leads to the rooms, but we don't usually think of rooms as leading to a hallway.
    – The Photon
    Nov 15 at 21:25
  • The word to pay attention to in the definition is "or" "Leading into", "or", "away from". If you are using the "away from" bit, it doesn't matter if it matches the "leading into" or not. Likewise if you use the "leading into" bit, it doesn't matter if you are using the "away from" bit or not. Logic would also state that you generally cannot be "into" and "away from" at the same time.
    – Edwin Buck
    Nov 15 at 23:33

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