From Middle Englishof, from Old Englishof(“from, out of”), an unstressed form of af, æf(“from, off, away”), from Proto-Germanic*ab(“away; away from”). Doublet of off, which is the stressed descendant of the same Old English word. More at off.
o, o', a
(UK) enPR: ŏv, IPA(key): /ɒv/
(General Australian, General New Zealand) enPR: ŏv, IPA(key): /ɔv/
(US) enPR: ŭv, IPA(key): /ʌv/
(UK) enPR: əv, IPA(key): /əv/, (before a consonant)/ə/
(US) IPA(key): /ʌv/, /əv/, /ə/
, unstressed, as part of the expression piece of cake
Homophone: 've(unstressed of only, postconsonantal 've only)
Homophone: a(when /v/ is elided)
Expressing distance or motion.
(now obsolete or dialectal) From (of distance, direction), "off". [from the 9th c.]
1485, Sir Thomas Malory, chapter x, in Le Morte Darthur, book XIII:
Sir said Galahad by this shelde ben many merueils fallen / Sir sayd the knyght hit befelle after the passion of our lord Ihesu Crist xxxij yere that Ioseph of Armathye the gentyl knyghte / the whiche took doune oure lord of the hooly Crosse att that tyme he departed from Iherusalem with a grete party of his kynred with hym
Against headache, vertigo, vapours which ascend forth of the stomach to molest the head, read Hercules de Saxonia and others.
(obsolete except in phrases) Since, from (a given time, earlier state etc.). [from the 9th c.]
1526, William Tyndale, trans. Bible, Mark IX:
And he axed his father: howe longe is it agoo, sens this hath happened hym? And he sayde, of a chylde.
1616, William Shakespeare, Two Gentlemen of Verona, IV.4:
one that I brought vp of a puppy[...]I was sent to deliuer him, as a present to Mistris Siluia, from my Master.
2010 July 29, Simon Tisdall, The Guardian:
Obama has been obliged to make nice of late in hope of rescuing the moribund two-state process and preventing resumed West Bank settlement building.
From, away from (a position, number, distance etc.). [from the 10th c.]
There are no shops within twenty miles of the cottage.
1932 September 30, Time:
Though Washington does not offically recognize Moscow, the Hoover Administration permits a Soviet Russian Information Bureau to flourish in a modest red brick house on Massachusetts Avenue, within a mile of the White House.
2010 November 7, The Guardian:
There are now upwards of 1.4 million 99ers in America facing a life with no benefits and few prospects for finding a job in a market in which companies are still not hiring.
(Canada, US, Scotland, Ireland) Before (the hour); to. [from the 19th c.]
What's the time? / Nearly a quarter of three.
1940 June 17, "Little Bull Booed", Time:
"Fellow Democrats," he began, "I left Washington at a quarter of two this morning [...]."
1982, TC Boyle, Water Music, Penguin, 2006, page 194:
Quarter of seven. Fifteen minutes to go.
Indicating removal, absence or separation, with the action indicated by a transitive verb and the quality or substance by a grammatical object.[from 10th c.]
Finally she was relieved of the burden of caring for her sick husband.
1485, Sir Thomas Malory, chapter xviij, in Le Morte Darthur, book XIII:
And ther with on his handes and on his knees he wente soo nyghe that he touched the holy vessel / and kyste hit / and anone he was hole / and thenne he sayd lord god I thanke the / for I am helyd of this sekenesse
Antigonus [took] upon him to favour a souldier of his by reason of his vertue and valour, to have great care of him, and see whether they could recover him of a lingering and inward disease which had long tormented him [...].
1816 February 20, Jane Austen, Letter:
I am almost entirely cured of my rheumatism—just a little pain in my knee now and then, to make me remember what it was, and keep on flannel.
1951, Time, 3 September:
In Houston, ten minutes after the Lindquist Finance Corp. was robbed of $447, Office Manager Howard Willson got a phone call from the thief who complained: "You didn't have enough money over there."
Indicating removal, absence or separation, with resulting state indicated by an adjective.[from 10th c.]
He seemed devoid of human feelings.
1731 August 28, Jonathan Swift, Letter:
But schemes are perfectly accidental: some will appear barren of hints and matter, but prove to be fruitful [...].
2010 October 31, Stuart James, The Guardian:
Yet for long spells Villa looked laboured and devoid of ideas.
(obsolete)Indicating removal, absence or separation, construed with an intransitive verb.[14th-19th c.]
1822, Jacob Bailey Moore, New Hampshire, volume 1, page 5:
He was kindly treated by the people at Saco, and recovered of his wounds.
Indicating an ancestral source or origin of descent.[from 9th c.]
The word is believed to be of Japanese origin.
1526, William Tyndale, trans. Bible, Acts II:
They wondred all, and marveylled sayinge amonge themselves: Loke, are not all these which speake off galile? And howe heare we every man his awne tongue wherein we were boren?
1954, The Rotarian, volume 85:6:
My father was born of a family of weavers in Manchester, England.
2010, "The Cost of Repair", The Economist:
Nothing may come of these ideas, yet their potential should not be dismissed.
Introducing an epithet that indicates a birthplace, residence, dominion, or other place associated with the individual.
Indicating a (non-physical) source of action or emotion; introducing a cause, instigation; from, out of, as an expression of. [from 9th c.]
The invention was born of necessity.
1485, Sir Thomas Malory, chapter xix, in Le Morte Darthur, book X:
Faire knyght said Palomydes me semeth we haue assayed eyther other passyng sore / and yf hit may please the / I requyre the of thy knyghthode telle me thy name / Sir said the knyȝt to Palomydes / that is me loth to doo / for thou hast done me wronge.
1803, John Smalley, Sermons:
Undoubtedly it is to be understood, that inflicting deserved punishment on all evil doers, of right, belongs to God.
2008 December 3, Rowenna Davis, The Guardian:
The woman who danced for me said she was there of her own free will, but when I pushed a bit further, I discovered that she "owed a man a lot of money", and had to pay it back quickly.
(following an intransitive verb)Indicates the source or cause of the verb.[from 10th c.]
It is said that she died of a broken heart.
2006, Joyce Carol Oates, The Female of the Species:
He smelled of beer and cigarette smoke and his own body.
2010 October 5, Rebecca Omonira-Oyekanmi, The Guardian:
Two men, one from Somalia and one from Zimbabwe, died of terminal illnesses shortly after their incarceration ended.
(following an adjective)Indicates the subject or cause of the adjective.[from 13th c.]
I am tired of all this nonsense.
2010 September 23, Bagehot, The Economist:
Lib Dems were appalled by Mr Boles’s offer, however kindly meant: the party is so frightened of losing its independence under Mr Clegg that such a pact would “kill” him, says a senior member.
2015, Vincent J. M. DiMaio, Gunshot Wounds:
Thus, one finds individuals dead of a gunshot wound with potentially lethal levels of drugs.
(following a passive verb)Indicates the agent (for most verbs, now usually expressed with by).[from 9th c.]
I am not particularly enamoured of this idea.
1526, William Tyndale, trans. Bible, Acts IX:
After a good while, the iewes toke cousell amonge themselves to kyll him. But their layinges awayte wer knowen of Saul.
she might appeare to be the lively patterne of another Lucrece, yet know I certainly that, both before that time and afterward, she had beene enjoyed of others upon easier composition.
1995, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, The Family: A Proclamation to the World:
The family is ordained of God.
2008 March 27, "Selling rhythm to the world", The Economist:
Colombia and Venezuela share an elegantly restrained style, with much back-stepping, smaller hand-movements and little use of the elaborate, arm-tangling moves beloved of Cuban dancers.
Used to introduce the "subjective genitive"; following a noun to form the head of a postmodifying noun phrase(see also 'Possession' senses below).[from 13th c.]
The contract can be terminated at any time with the agreement of both parties.
1994, Paul Coates, Film at the Intersection of High and Mass Culture, page 136:
In Blood and Sand, meanwhile, Valentino repeatedly solicits the attention of women who have turned away from him.
2009 December 28, "Head to head", The Economist:
Somehow Croatia has escaped the opprobrium of the likes of the German Christian Democrats and others that are against any rapid enlargement of the European Union to the include rest of the western Balkans.
(following an adjective)Used to indicate the agent of something described by the adjective.[from 16th c.]
It was very brave of you to speak out like that.
1815, Jane Austen, Emma:
When this was over, Mr. Woodhouse gratefully observed,—"It is very kind of you, Mr. Knightley, to come out at this late hour to call upon us."
2007 January 10, Dorian Lynskey, The Guardian:
Morrissey's spokesperson says he is considering the offer. It would perhaps be rude of him to decline.
Expressing composition, substance.
(after a verb expressing construction, making etc.)Used to indicate the material or substance used.[from 9th c.]
Many 'corks' are now actually made of plastic.
1846, Herman Melville, Typee:
The mallet is made of a hard heavy wood resembling ebony, is about twelve inches in length, and perhaps two in breadth, with a rounded handle at one end [...].
(directly following a noun)Used to indicate the material of the just-mentioned object.[from the 10th c.]
She wore a dress of silk.
2010 January 23, Simon Mawer, The Guardian:
Perhaps symbolically, Van Doesburg was building a house of straw: he died within a few months of completion, not in Meudon but in Davos, of a heart attack following a bout of asthma.
Indicating the composition of a given collective or quantitative noun.[from 12th c.]
What a lot of nonsense!
1853, William Makepeace Thackeray, Barry Lyndon:
His papers at this period contain a mass of very unedifying and uninteresting documents [...].
2010 October 31, Polly Vernon, The Guardian:
I'd expected to be confronted by oodles of barely suppressed tension and leather-clad, pouty-mouthed, large-haired sexiness; the visual shorthand of rock gods in general, and Jon Bon Jovi in particular.
Used to link a given class of things with a specific example of that class.[from 12th c.]
Welcome to the historic town of Harwich.
1719, Daniel Defoe, Robinson Crusoe:
This having the rainy month of March and April to water it, sprung up very pleasantly, and yielded a very good crop [...].
2010 October 30, Maya Jaggi, The Guardian:
In his studio in the Behlendorf woods, near the Baltic city of Lübeck, Günter Grass reflects on the outcry over his fictive memoir Peeling the Onion.
Links two nouns in near-apposition, with the first qualifying the second; "which is also". [from 14th c.]
I'm not driving this wreck of a car.
1911, Katherine Mansfield, In a German Pension:
As he swallowed the soup his heart warmed to this fool of a girl.
2010 August 22, Sean O'Hagan, The Guardian:
"I'm having a bitch of a day," he says, after ordering a restorative pint of Guinness and flopping down in a seat by the front window.
Introducing subject matter.
Links an intransitive verb, or a transitive verb and its subject (especially verbs to do with thinking, feeling, expressing etc.), with its subject-matter; concerning, with regard to. [from 10th c.]
I'm always thinking of you.
1815, Jane Austen, Emma:
he spoke of his uncle with warm regard, was fond of talking of him [...].
2010 October 19, Rebecca Seal, The Guardian:
while producing Cook, which includes more than 250 seasonal recipes by 80 different chefs, we washed up more than 500 times (oh, how I dreamed of dishwashers).
(following a noun (now chiefly nouns of knowledge, communication etc.))Introduces its subject matter; about, concerning. [from 12th c.]
He told us the story of his journey to India.
2010 October 21, The Economist:
Recession and rising unemployment have put paid to most thoughts of further EU enlargement.
(following an adjective)Introduces its subject matter.[from 15th c.]
This behaviour is typical of teenagers.
1851, Herman Melville, Moby-Dick:
The same secludedness and isolation to which the schoolmaster whale betakes himself in his advancing years, is true of all aged Sperm Whales.
Having partitive effect.
(following a number or other quantitive word)Introduces the whole for which is indicated only the specified part or segment; "from among". [from 9th c.]
Most of these apples are rotten.
1485, Sir Thomas Malory, chapter lviij, in Le Morte Darthur, book X:
But as for me said sire Gareth I medle not of their maters therfore there is none of them that loueth me / And for I vnderstande they be murtherers of good knyghtes I lefte theyre company
1789, Edward Gibbon, Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, volume 6:
The dead bodies of the Koreish were despoiled and insulted; two of the most obnoxious prisoners were punished with death [...].
2010 November 10, Michael Wood, The Guardian:
Many of the civilisational achievements of Mesopotamia are the product of that symbiosis.
(following a noun)Indicates a given part.[from 9th c.]
2005, Naomi Wolf, The Treehouse, page 58:
everyone, even the ladies of the village, called the dish tzigayner shmeklekh, or “gypsies' penises.”
2006, Norman Mailer, The Big Empty:
That, I think, is the buried core of the outrage people feel most generally.
(now archaic, literary, with preceding partitive word assumed, or as a predicate after to be) Some, an amount of, one of. [from 9th c.]
On the whole, they seem to be of the decent sort.
1526, William Tyndale, trans. Bible, Matthew XXV:
And the folysshe sayde to the wyse: geve us of youre oyle, for oure lampes goo out?
1846, James Fenimore Cooper, The Redskins:
Dunning, however, is of the old school, and does not like new faces; so he will have no Irishman at his door [...].
Links to a genitive noun or possessive pronoun, with partitive effect (though now often merged with possessive senses, below).[from 13th c.]
He is a friend of mine.
1893, Oscar Wilde, A Woman of No Importance, IV:
He is just what I should have liked a son of mine to be.
2010 August 27, Michael Tomasky, The Guardian:
In its flattering way, the press tried to invest this habit of Bush's with the sense that it was indicative of a particularly sharp wit.
Belonging to, existing in, or taking place in a given location, place or time. Compare "origin" senses, above.[from 9th c.]
He was perhaps the most famous scientist of the twentieth century.
1774, Edward Long, The History of Jamaica. Or, General Survey of the Antient and Modern State of that Island, volume 2, book 2, chapter 7, 5:
The building was erected in two years, at the parochial expence, on the foundation of the former one, which was irreparably damaged by the hurricane of Auguſt, 1712.
1908, EF Benson, The Blotting Book:
Thus, as he dressed, the thoughts and the rage of yesterday began to stir and move in his mind again.
2003 August 20, Julian Borger, The Guardian:
Within ten seconds, the citizens of New York, Cleveland, Detroit and Toronto were being given first-hand experience of what it was like to live in the nineteenth century.
Belonging to (a place) through having title, ownership or control over it. [from 9th c.]
The owner of the nightclub was arrested.
1977 October 28, The Guardian:
In a much-anticipated radio broadcast the Duke of Edinburgh said last night that Britain will be a grim place in the year 2000 [...].
2001, Dictionary of National Biography, 2001, page 27:
The third son, William John (1826-1902), was headmaster of the Boys' British School, Hitchin [...].
Belonging to (someone or something) as something they possess or have as a characteristic; the "possessive genitive". (With abstract nouns, this intersects with the subjective genitive, above under "agency" senses.)[from 13th c.]
Keep the handle of the saucepan away from the flames.
1933, Havelock Ellis, Psychology of Sex, volume 4:
The breasts of young girls sometimes become tender at puberty in sympathy with the evolution of the sexual organs [...].
2010 October 29, Marina Hyde, The Guardian:
It amounts to knocking on the door of No 10 then running away.
Forming the "objective genitive".
Follows an agent noun, verbal noun or noun of action.[from 12th c.]
She had a profound distrust of the police.
1611, Bible, Authorized Version, Matthew IV:
And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.
2000, Sheila Ruth, Issues in Feminism:
Antifeminism has been a credible cover and an effective vehicle because the hatred of women is not politically anathema on either the Right or the Left.
Expressing qualities or characteristics.
(now archaic or literary)Links an adjective with a noun or noun phrase to form a quasi-adverbial qualifier; in respect to, as regards. [from 13th c.]
My companion seemed affable and easy of manner.
1917, Zane Gray, Wildfire, page 35:
He was huge, raw-boned, knotty, long of body and long of leg, with the head of a war charger.
2004 August 11, Sean Ingle, The Guardian:
Still nimble of mind and fleet of foot, Morris buzzed here and there, linking well and getting stuck in at every opportunity.
Indicates a quality or characteristic; "characterized by". [from 13th c.]
Pooh was said to be a bear of very little brain.
1891, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Boscombe Valley Mystery:
His frank acceptance of the situation marks him as either an innocent man, or else as a man of considerable self-restraint and firmness.
1951, Jacob Bronowski, The Common Sense of Science:
No other man has made so deep a mark on his time and on our world unless he has been a man of action, a Cromwell or a Napoleon.
1903, Frank Norris, The Pit, Doubleday 1924, page 4:
She was a tall young girl of about twenty-two or three, holding herself erect and with fine dignity.
2006, Serway & Jewett, Principles of Physics, page 428:
A police car, traveling southbound at a speed of 40.0 m/s, approaches with its siren producing sound at a frequency of 2 500 Hz.
(US, informal, considered incorrect by some)Used to link singular indefinite nouns (preceded by the indefinite article) and attributive adjectives modified by certain common adverbs of degree.
It's not that big of a deal.
Such hegemonic projects often appropriate certain local traditions and re-inscribe them as "national," while dismissing other traditions which pose too great of a threat to the reproduction of the existing socio-political order.
For some individuals, even 1000 calories/day may be too great of a deficit.
While it is quite obvious that the state continues to try and dilute the voting power of Native Americans, at least as big of a challenge is the need for mobilizing Native American voters.
Expressing a point in time.
(chiefly regional) During the course of (a set period of time, day of the week etc.), now specifically with implied repetition or regularity. [from 9th c.]
Of an evening, we would often go for a stroll along the river.
1861, Charles Dickens, Tom Tiddler's Ground
For, sometimes of an afternoon when Miss Pupford has been reading the paper through her little gold eye-glass[...]she has become agitated [...].
1897, Henry James, What Maisie Knew:
If there was a type Ida despised, Sir Claude communicated to Maisie, it was the man who pottered about town of a Sunday [...].
(Britain dialectal, chiefly in negative constructions) For (a given length of time). [from 13th c.]
I've not tekken her out of a goodly long while.
(after a noun)Indicates duration of a state, activity etc.[from 18th c.]
After a delay of three hours, the plane finally took off.
2011 March 2, Grant McCabe, The Sun:
The cab driver's claim he was sleepwalking during the attack has already been supported by his wife of 37 years.
(belonging to or associated with): When applied to a person or persons, the possessive is generally used instead.
(containing, comprising, or made from):Of may be used directly with a verb or adjectival phrase.
When modifying a noun, modern English increasingly uses noun adjuncts rather than of. Examples include part of speech (16th century) vs. word class (20th century), Federal Bureau of Investigation (1908) vs. Central Intelligence Agency (1947), and affairs of the world (18th century) vs. world affairs (20th century).
The use of of to link nouns to attributive adjectives modified by certain adverbs is always optional; omitting of in such instances is always permissible and does not alter the meaning of the expression. Adverbs that may be used with this construction include too, so, how, as, more, less, this, and that.
A spelling of /əv/ influenced by Etymology 1.
(usually in modal perfect constructions)Eye dialect spelling of have or ’ve, chiefly in depictions of colloquial speech.
1926, F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby, Penguin 2000, page 33:
"I had a woman up here last week to look at my feet, and when she have been the bill you'd of thought she had my appendicitus out."
1943, Raymond Chandler, The High Window, Penguin 2005, page 87:
‘You must of left your door unlocked. Or even open.’
“of” in Paul Heacock [et al.], editors, Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009, →ISBN; reproduced on the Cambridge English Dictionary, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, retrieved 21 July 2017.
F/O, FO, fo, fo', fo.
From Dutchof, from Middle Dutchof, ofte.
From Middle Dutchof, ofte. In Middle Dutch the two words merged; the form of derives from Old Dutchof, from Proto-Germanic*jabai.
(subordinating) whether, if
(of ... of) either ... or
(of ... of dat) whether ... or
→ Papiamentu: òf
German Low German
From Middle Low Germanaf, from Old Saxonaf, from Proto-Germanic*ab. More at off.
off (not "on")
From Old Saxoneftha
Alternative form of àder
From Englishof, as in "X of X".
of • (obu)
(informal)Used to express that one is an exemplar.
yūsha obu yūsha no ○○ san
XX, a hero of heros; XX, a true hero
kimoi obu kimoi
ザ(za, with similar function, literally “the”)
From Old Norse [Term?], from Proto-Germanic*uber. The original full form is seen in the prefixed form ofur-(“overly, super, very”). Related to yfir(“above”) and ofan(“from above”).
too (to an excessive degree)
af, uef(both dialectal)
From Middle High Germanaf, ave, from Old High Germanava, northern variant of aba, from Proto-Germanic*ab. Cognate with Germanab, Dutchaf, Englishof and off. The expected Luxembourgish forms are af (< af) and uef (< ave). The form of is probably a compromise between both variants; otherwise it would imply an irregularly lengthened Middle High German *āf, *āve.
(chiefly in compounds) off; down
From Old Dutchof.
Sometimes confused with ofte.
Alternative form of af
Verwijs, E.; Verdam, J., “of (II)”, in Middelnederlandsch Woordenboek, The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1885–1929, →ISBN, page II
From Old Englishof, an unstressed form of af, æf(“from, off, away”), from Proto-Germanic*ab(“away; away from”).
ofe, offe, hof, ove
ob, om, oþ (before b, m, þ)
Yola: af, av, ov, o'
“of, prep.”, in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2007.
From Old Englishæf.
“of, adv.”, in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2007.
An alteration of oth, from Old Englishoþ.
“of, conj.(1).”, in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2007.
Apheresis of thof, a variation of though, from Old Englishþēah.
“of, conj.(2).”, in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2007.
(This etymology is missing or incomplete. Please add to it, or discuss it at the Etymology scriptorium.)
Middle Dutch: of
“of”, in Oudnederlands Woordenboek, 2012
Unstressed form of æf.
The Life of Saint Margaret
late 10th century, Ælfric, On the Seasons of the Year
late 10th century, Ælfric, Esther
by (indicating the creator of a work)
Of does not mean "of," even though it's where the word "of" comes from. Instead, the Anglo-Saxons mostly used the genitive case where we would say "of": Dēaðes god man sċeal ofslēan ("The god of death must be killed"), Iċ hine huntiġe oþ eorðan endas ("I'll hunt him to the ends of the Earth"). Even the occasional instances where "of" translates of are a survival of its original sense "from" or "out of": sē weall is ġeworht of tiġelan and eorþteorwe ("the wall is made of brick and asphalt"), Sē Hǣlend sċolde bēon of fǣmnan ġeboren ("Jesus was supposedly born of a virgin").
Note also that of never means "about." Phrases like "to think of" and "to speak of" are rendered with be or ymb.
For doing something "out of" an emotion, for is typically used instead of of: Þætte for lufum ġedōn biþ þæt ġewierþ simle beġeondan gōde and yfele ("What is done out of love always takes place beyond good and evil").
Middle English: of
(with accusative) of in Geir T. Zoëga, A Concise Dictionary of Old Icelandic, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1910
Unstressed form of af.
ugh, tsk, sigh
used for expressing:
pain, bitterness, regret
oof (often expressing that some task requires great effort)
ouch (used both for literally and emotionally painful situations)
ugh (expressing disgust or strong dismay)
she (third-person feminine)
Soft mutation of gof.
From Old Frisianjef, from Proto-Germanic*jabai.
“of”, in Wurdboek fan de Fryske taal (in Dutch), 2011