off the air


Not being broadcast, as in Once they knew they were off the air, the panelists burst out laughing. This idiom, along with the antonym on the air (“being broadcast”), dates from the 1920s, air being considered a medium for radio-wave transmission.

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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.