[ kast-awf, -of ]
See synonyms for: castoffcastoffs on

  1. thrown away; rejected; discarded: Out of a few pieces of castoff clothing she made herself a presentable new outfit.

  1. a person or thing that has been thrown away or rejected: I refuse to accept second hand merchandise—some other person's castoffs.Many immigrants felt like castoffs, marginalized by national and global economic forces.

  2. Printing. the estimate by a compositor of how many pages copy will occupy when set in type.

verb phrasecast off [kast-awf, of] /ˈkæst ˈɔf, ˈɒf/
  1. to reject or discard: He soon cast off the shackles of his repressive upbringing.

  2. to let go or let loose, as a vessel or its ropes from a mooring; set sail or begin a voyage: We were about to cast off on a three-day cruise along the coast of British Columbia.

  1. Textiles. to make (the final stitches) in a piece of knitting and remove them from the needle.

  2. Printing. to determine how much space or type will be occupied by (a given amount of text).

  3. to shed or cast: Like leaves on an oak tree, antlers are cast off and then regrown every year.

  4. to throw (a falcon) off from the fist to pursue game.

Origin of castoff

First recorded in 1735–45; adjective, noun use of verb phrase cast off

Words Nearby castoff Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use castoff in a sentence

  • The underdog franchise, then only five years old, was led by a bowlegged castoff named Johnny Unitas at quarterback.

  • A player comes on under the shadow, made up in the castoff mail of a court buck, a wellset man with a bass voice.

    Ulysses | James Joyce
  • The child pointed to what appeared to be some ragged, castoff clothes left in the hole by the late occupant.

    Selected Stories | Bret Harte
  • Behold him, beneath the mass of stale and putrid slime, a castoff, friendless and penniless vagabond.

    Treading the Narrow Way | R. E. Barrett
  • Doubtless she would hail his wish—half a reform in itself—to castoff the outward signs of an accepted degradation.

    What Will He Do With It, Complete | Edward Bulwer-Lytton
  • So he picked up some castoff feathers of the Peacocks and stuck them among his own black plumes.

British Dictionary definitions for cast-off


  1. (prenominal) thrown away; abandoned: cast-off shoes

  1. a person or thing that has been discarded or abandoned

  2. printing an estimate of the amount of space that a piece of copy will occupy when printed in a particular size and style of type

verbcast off (adverb)
  1. to remove (mooring lines) that hold (a vessel) to a dock

  2. to knot (a row of stitches, esp the final row) in finishing off knitted or woven material

  1. printing to estimate the amount of space that will be taken up by (a book, piece of copy, etc) when it is printed in a particular size and style of type

  2. (intr) (in Scottish country dancing) to perform a progressive movement during which each partner of a couple dances separately behind one line of the set and then reunites with the other in their original position in the set or in a new position

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

Other Idioms and Phrases with castoff


Discard, reject, as in He cast off his clothes and jumped in the pool. This term was already used figuratively in Miles Coverdale's translation of the Bible (1535): “Thy mother ... that hath cast off her housebonds and her children” (Ezekiel 16:45).

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