- (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
- have: He should of asked me first.
or OF, O.F.
- Old French.
- variant of ob- (by assimilation) before f: offend.
- 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
- Old French (language)
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-.