[uhv, ov; unstressed uh v or, esp. before consonants, uh]


Nearby words

  1. oestrone,
  2. oestrous,
  3. oestrous cycle,
  4. oestrus,
  5. oeuvre,
  6. of a kind,
  7. of a piece,
  8. of a sort,
  9. of age,
  10. of all things

Origin of of

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]

auxiliary verb Pronunciation Spelling.

have: 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 [uh v] /əv/ or [uh] /ə/ 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.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for of



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 gerundthe breathing of a fine swimmer (subject); the breathing of clean air (object)
used to indicate possession, origin, or associationthe house of my sister; to die of hunger
used after words or phrases expressing quantitiesa pint of milk
constituted by, containing, or characterized bya family of idiots; a rod of iron; a man of some depth
used to indicate separation, as in time or spacewithin a mile of the town; within ten minutes of the beginning of the concert
used to mark appositionthe city of Naples; a speech on the subject of archaeology
about; concerningspeak to me of love
used in passive constructions to indicate the agenthe was beloved of all
informal used to indicate a day or part of a period of time when some activity habitually occursI go to the pub of an evening
US before the hour ofa quarter of nine

Word Origin for of

Old English (as prep and adv); related to Old Norse af, Old High German aba, Latin ab, Greek apo


See off


abbreviation for

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

Word Origin and History for of
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper