• synonyms


[aw-fing, of-ing]
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  1. the more distant part of the sea seen from the shore, beyond the anchoring ground.
  2. a position at a distance from shore.
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  1. in the offing,
    1. at a distance but within sight.
    2. in the projected future; likely to happen: A wedding is in the offing.
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Origin of offing

First recorded in 1620–30; off + -ing1
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words


British Dictionary definitions for in the offing


  1. the part of the sea that can be seen from the shore
  2. in the offing likely to occur soon
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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 in the offing



in phrase in the offing, 1779, from nautical term offing "the more distant part of the sea as seen from the shore" (1620s), from off (q.v.) + noun suffix -ing (1). Originally the phrase meant "in the distant future;" modern sense of "impending" developed 1914.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with in the offing

in the offing

In the near or immediate future; soon to come. For example, Jan was delighted that exams were finished and graduation was in the offing. This expression originally meant “in the part of the ocean visible between shore and horizon”; its figurative use dates from the late 1700s. Also see in the wind.

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see in the offing.

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