• synonyms


[tip-awf, -of]
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noun Informal.
  1. the act of tipping off.
  2. a hint or warning: They got a tip-off on the raid.

Origin of tip-off

First recorded in 1910–15; noun use of verb phrase tip off


  1. a small present of money given directly to someone for performing a service or menial task; gratuity: He gave the waiter a dollar as a tip.
  2. a piece of private or secret information, as for use in betting, speculating, or writing a news story: a tip from a bookie.
  3. a useful hint or idea; a basic, practical fact: tips on painting.
verb (used with object), tipped, tip·ping.
  1. to give a gratuity to.
verb (used without object), tipped, tip·ping.
  1. to give a gratuity: She tipped lavishly.
Verb Phrases
  1. tip off, Informal.
    1. to supply with private or secret information; inform.
    2. to warn of impending danger or trouble; caution beforehand: The moonshiners had been tipped off that they were about to be raided.

Origin of tip3

First recorded in 1600–10; perhaps special use of tip4
Related formstip·less, adjectivetip·pa·ble, adjective


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3. suggestion, pointer.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
British Dictionary definitions for tip off


  1. the extreme end of something, esp a narrow or pointed end
  2. the top or summit
  3. a small piece forming an extremity or enda metal tip on a cane
verb tips, tipping or tipped (tr)
  1. to adorn or mark the tip of
  2. to cause to form a tip
Derived Formstipless, adjective

Word Origin

C15: from Old Norse typpa; related to Middle Low German, Middle Dutch tip


verb tips, tipping or tipped
  1. to tilt or cause to tilt
  2. (usually foll by over or up) to tilt or cause to tilt, so as to overturn or fall
  3. British to dump (rubbish, etc)
  4. tip one's hat to take off, raise, or touch one's hat in salutation
  1. the act of tipping or the state of being tipped
  2. British a dump for refuse, etc
Derived Formstippable, adjective

Word Origin

C14: of uncertain origin; related to top 1, topple


  1. a payment given for services in excess of the standard charge; gratuity
  2. a helpful hint, warning, or other piece of information
  3. a piece of inside information, esp in betting or investing
verb tips, tipping or tipped
  1. to give a tip to (a person)

Word Origin

C18: perhaps from tip 4


verb tips, tipping or tipped (tr)
  1. to hit or strike lightly
  2. to hit (a ball) indirectly so that it glances off the bat in cricket
  1. a light blow
  2. a glancing hit in cricket

Word Origin

C13: perhaps from Low German tippen


  1. a warning or hint, esp given confidentially and based on inside information
  2. basketball the act or an instance of putting the ball in play by a jump ball
verb tip off
  1. (tr, adverb) to give a hint or warning to
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

Word Origin and History for tip off



"to slope, overturn," c.1300, possibly from Scandinavian, or a special use of tip (n.). Intransitive sense of "fall over" is recorded from 1520s. Related: Tipped; tipping. Tipping point attested by 1972.



"end, point, top," early 13c., from Middle Low German or Middle Dutch tip "utmost point, extremity, tip" (cf. German zipfel, a diminutive formation); perhaps cognate with Old English tæppa "stopper" (see tap (n.)), from Proto-Germanic *tupp- "upper extremity." Tip-top is from 1702.



"give a small present of money to," c.1600, "to give, hand, pass," originally thieves' cant, perhaps from tip (v.3) "to tap." The meaning "give a gratuity to" is first attested 1706. The noun in this sense is from 1755; the meaning "piece of confidential information" is from 1845; the verb in this sense is from 1883; tipster first recorded 1862. For urban legendary origin as an acronym, see here .



"light, sharp blow or tap," mid-15c., possibly from Low German tippen "to poke, touch lightly," related to Middle Low German tip "end, point," and thus connected to tip (n.); or else connected with tap (v.) "to strike lightly." The noun in this sense is attested from 1560s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with tip off

tip off

Supply with secret or private information; also, warn or alert. For example, The broker often tipped her off about stocks about to go down in price, or Somehow they were tipped off and left the country before the police could catch them. [Colloquial; late 1800s]


In addition to the idioms beginning with tip

also see:

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.