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[uhv, ov; unstressed uh v or, esp. before consonants, uh] /ʌv, ɒv; unstressed əv or, esp. before consonants, ə/
(used to indicate distance or direction from, separation, deprivation, etc.):
within a mile of the church; south of Omaha; to be robbed of one's money.
(used to indicate derivation, origin, or source):
a man of good family; the plays of Shakespeare; a piece of cake.
(used to indicate cause, motive, occasion, or reason):
to die of hunger.
(used to indicate material, component parts, substance, or contents):
a dress of silk; an apartment of three rooms; a book of poems; a package of cheese.
(used to indicate apposition or identity):
Is that idiot of a salesman calling again?
(used to indicate specific identity or a particular item within a category):
the city of Chicago; thoughts of love.
(used to indicate possession, connection, or association):
the king of France; the property of the church.
(used to indicate inclusion in a number, class, or whole):
one of us.
(used to indicate the objective relation, the object of the action noted by the preceding noun or the application of a verb or adjective):
the ringing of bells; He writes her of home; I'm tired of working.
(used to indicate reference or respect):
There is talk of peace.
(used to indicate qualities or attributes):
an ambassador of remarkable tact.
(used to indicate a specified time):
They arrived of an evening.
Chiefly Northern U.S. before the hour of; until:
twenty minutes of five.
on the part of:
It was very mean of you to laugh at me.
in respect to:
fleet of foot.
set aside for or devoted to:
a minute of prayer.
Archaic. by:
consumed of worms.
Origin of of1
before 900; Middle English, Old English: of, off; cognate with German ab, Latin ab, Greek apó. See off, a-2, o'
Usage note
Of is sometimes added to phrases beginning with the adverb how or too followed by a descriptive adjective: How long of a drive will it be? It's too hot of a day for tennis. This construction is probably modeled on that in which how or too is followed by much, an unquestionably standard use in all varieties of speech and writing: How much of a problem will that cause the government? There was too much of an uproar for the speaker to be heard. The use of of with descriptive adjectives after how or too is largely restricted to informal speech. It occurs occasionally in informal writing and written representations of speech. See also couple, off.


[uh v] /əv/
auxiliary verb, Pronunciation Spelling.
He should of asked me first.
Compare a4 .
Usage note
Because the preposition of, when unstressed ( a piece of cake ), and the unstressed or contracted auxiliary verb have ( could have gone, could've gone ) are both pronounced or in connected speech, inexperienced writers commonly confuse the two words, spelling have as of ( I would of handed in my book report, but the dog ate it ). Professional writers have been able to exploit this spelling deliberately, especially in fiction, to help represent the speech of the uneducated: If he could of went home, he would of.


or OF, O.F

Old French.


variant of ob- (by assimilation) before f: offend. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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British Dictionary definitions for of


/ɒv; unstressed əv/
used with a verbal noun or gerund to link it with a following noun that is either the subject or the object of the verb embedded in the gerund: the breathing of a fine swimmer (subject), the breathing of clean air (object)
used to indicate possession, origin, or association: the house of my sister, to die of hunger
used after words or phrases expressing quantities: a pint of milk
constituted by, containing, or characterized by: a family of idiots, a rod of iron, a man of some depth
used to indicate separation, as in time or space: within a mile of the town, within ten minutes of the beginning of the concert
used to mark apposition: the city of Naples, a speech on the subject of archaeology
about; concerning: speak to me of love
used in passive constructions to indicate the agent: he was beloved of all
(informal) used to indicate a day or part of a period of time when some activity habitually occurs: I go to the pub of an evening
(US) before the hour of: a quarter of nine
Word Origin
Old English (as prep and adv); related to Old Norse af, Old High German aba, Latin ab, Greek apo


Old French (language)
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for of

Old English of, unstressed form of æf (prep., adv.) "away, away from," from Proto-Germanic *af (cf. Old Norse af, Old Frisian af, of "of," Dutch af "off, down," German ab "off, from, down"), from PIE *apo- "off, away" (see apo-). Primary sense in Old English still was "away," but shifted in Middle English with use of the word to translate Latin de, ex, and especially Old French de, which had come to be the substitute for the genitive case. "Of shares with another word of the same length, as, the evil glory of being accessory to more crimes against grammar than any other." [Fowler]

Also from 1837 a non-standard or dialectal representation of have as pronounced in unstressed positions (could of, must of, etc.)


assimilated form of ob- before -f-.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for of



Have •In verb constructions, used for humorous or dialect effect: I must of gone crazy or something (1844+)

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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