the payment of a salary, debt, wager, etc.
the time at which such payment is made.
the consequence, outcome, or final sequence in a series of events, actions, or circumstances: The payoff was when they fired him.
Informal. the climax of something, especially a story or joke.
a settlement or reckoning, as in retribution or reward.
Informal. a bribe.
yielding results, especially rewarding or decisive results: The payoff play was the long pass into the end zone.
to pay (someone) everything that is due that person, especially to do so and discharge from one's employ.
to pay (a debt) in full.
Informal. to bribe.
to retaliate upon or punish; pay back.
to result in success or failure: The risk paid off handsomely.
Nautical. to fall off to leeward.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023
How to use payoff in a sentence
That could triple the financial payoff for shareholders, including Burry, whose investment firm owned 2 million shares.The GameStop stock craze is about a populist uprising against Wall Street. But it’s more complicated than that. | David J. Lynch | February 1, 2021 | Washington Post
With that profile as backdrop, the few advertisers already on the app are now hoping the work they’re doing now leads to a big payoff down the line.‘Not a place for takeovers’: Pepsi amps up Triller marketing plans | Seb Joseph | January 12, 2021 | Digiday
The companies asking for body photographs and videos think the payoff is worth the exposure.For Amazon’s $25 custom T-shirt, your body is a wonderland (of data) | Heather Kelly | January 5, 2021 | Washington Post
Now, however, opting into one of those services provides random companies with a lot more information than they need about you for almost no payoff.
These areas of open ocean beyond the territorial jurisdiction of any nation are generally considered high-effort, low-payoff fishing grounds, yet fishers continue to work in them anyway.AI and satellite data find thousands of fishing boats that could be using forced labor | Gavin McDonald | December 21, 2020 | Quartz
Critics accused Foster of giving Duke a payoff to stay out of the race; that was never proven.
If we enter with science and respect, the payoff will last generations.
They liked the way [the alternate ending] made the audience feel rather than just having a big payoff.Scott Haze on Playing a Necrophiliac in ‘Child of God’ and Naked Paintballing with James Franco | Melissa Leon | August 3, 2014 | THE DAILY BEAST
The risk of being wrong was small, but the potential payoff for being right was amazingly high.
He wants “more than a handout, a payoff, hush money, or a reluctant bribe.”America Is Coming to Terms with Its Racial Past—Let’s Look Ahead Instead | John McWhorter | May 22, 2014 | THE DAILY BEAST
De Quille had not missed the opportunity of his comrade's absence to payoff some old scores.Mark Twain, A Biography, 1835-1910, Complete | Albert Bigelow Paine
A cosmic pitch like this could bring a galactic payoff, whatever it might be.At the Post | Horace Leonard Gold
"Now it's all over but the payoff," thought Jerry, waiting for Mr. Bartlett to make out the grocery slip.Jerry's Charge Account | Hazel Hutchins Wilson
And frequently no one suspects the direction the payoff finally takes.The Practical Values of Space Exploration | Committee on Science and Astronautics
It puts a premium not on salesmanship, but on what it needs most—intellectual production, the research payoff.The Practical Values of Space Exploration | Committee on Science and Astronautics
British Dictionary definitions for pay off
(tr, adverb) to pay all that is due in wages, etc, and discharge from employment
(tr, adverb) to pay the complete amount of (a debt, bill, etc)
(intr, adverb) to turn out to be profitable, effective, etc: the gamble paid off
(tr, adverb or intr, preposition) to take revenge on (a person) or for (a wrong done): to pay someone off for an insult
(tr, adverb) informal to give a bribe to
(intr, adverb) nautical (of a vessel) to make leeway
the final settlement, esp in retribution: the payoff came when the gang besieged the squealer's house
informal the climax, consequence, or outcome of events, a story, etc, esp when unexpected or improbable
the final payment of a debt, salary, etc
the time of such a payment
informal a bribe
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 payoff
Pay the full amount on a debt or on wages, as in The car's finally paid off, or Les pays off the workers every Friday evening. [Early 1700s]
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.