The Meaning of Offset: What It Is and How To Use It

Do you know the definition of offset? This article will provide you with all of the information you need on the word offset, including its definition, etymology, usage, example sentences, and more!

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What does the word offset mean?

According to the Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language, as well as other dictionaries like American Heritage and Collins English dictionary, the word offset can be used as either a noun or a verb. As a verb, the word offset means to place over or balance against something, to compensate for something, or to adjust something. As a noun, the word offset can refer to something that serves to counterbalance or compensate for something else, or in botany, a short prostrate or lateral shoot that arises from the base of a plant, such as a small bulb that arises from the base of another bulb to make a new plant with the offshoot like a houseleek, AKA a set-off. 

Offset can also refer to a printing process, a displacement, or something that sets off to advantage something else. It can also refer to an abrupt bend in an object like a pipe or rod, or other such continuous piece. It can also mean surveying a short distance from a main line to help in computing the area of an irregular plot. Archaically, this noun was used to refer to the outset or start of a journey. In geology this refers to displacement between a spur of a mountain range. Many things can be offset, including a wheel offset, positive offset, negative offset, and more. The pronunciation of offset is ˈɒfset.

Many other languages also contain words that mean offset. You may notice that some of these languages have translations that look similar to the word offset. These are called cognates, which are often formed when two words have the same root or language of origin. This list of translations of offset is provided by Word Sense.

  •  Hungarian: ofszet‎
  •  Irish: seach-chur‎ (masc.)
  •  Dutch: offsetdruk‎
  •  Finnish: offsetpaino‎
  •  Swedish: offsettryck‎ (neut.)
  •  Czech: ofset‎ (masc.)
  •  Russian: офсе́тная печа́ть‎
  •  Italian: stampa in offset‎ (fem.)
  •  Spanish: ófset‎
  •  German: Offsetdruck‎ (masc.)
  •  Norwegian: offsettrykk‎ (neut.)
  •  Turkish: ofset‎
  •  Hebrew: אופסט‎ (offset), הדפסת פסט‎
  •  Scottish Gaelic: leac-sgrìobhadh‎ (masc.)
  •  Portuguese: offset‎ (masc.), ofsete‎ (masc.)
  •  French: impression en offset‎ (fem.)

What is the origin of the word offset?

According to Etymonline, the word offset has been used since the 1550s to refer to an act of setting off on a journey, from “off set.” The word offset has been used to mean something counterbalancing something else or set off against something else since 1769. The word offset has been used as a verb since 1792. The word offset has been used as a type of printing since 1906; this type of printing is where the inked impression is made on a rubber roller and then transferred to paper. 

How can the word offset be used in a sentence?

The word offset can be used in many different contexts in different sentences. Below are examples of offset.

The printer rolled the ink onto the rubber blanket to complete the offset printing. He enjoyed this printing method more than lithography, and liked working with the intermediate surface. He found backspacing and the printing surface fascinating.

The architecture student designed the horizontal ledge on the face of a wall as an offset formed by a diminution of its thickness on the  upper surface of a part.

The woman offset the painting by a short distance. This measurement of distance was just a few centimeters, but it looked better.

The particular group of bikers stared at the offset in the range of hills and admired its beauty. The California ridge had a small suspension bridge in it, and the bikers decided to switch on their brakes to take a look. 

He tried to offset the surge in the price of the Euro with an obstruction, a form of countertrade arrangement, or international trade with the buying country, but he had no luck. No kind of agreement could overcome the small offset.

There was zero offset with the centerline of the wheel and metal plate. This is why her car was out of alignment. The seller told her not to use aftermarket wheels or fenders.

The botanist took a look at the buds on the offset at the base of the plant. The tuft of leaves on the short prostrate shoot made her proud. This small horizontal branch was a success.

What are synonyms and antonyms of the word offset?

There are many different words and phrases a person can choose to use instead of using the word offset. These words are called synonyms, which are words and phrases that have the same definition as another word or phrase. Synonyms are useful to know if you are trying to avoid repeating yourself in written or spoken English, or if you are trying to expand your English vocabulary in an easy way. The below list of synonyms for the word offset is provided by Thesaurus. 

  •  allow for
  •  setoff
  •  charge
  •  equipoise
  •  cancel out
  •  set off
  •  balance
  •  countervail
  •  counterpoise
  •  counteract
  •  requite
  •  counterbalance
  •  compensate
  •  neutralize
  •  counterpose
  •  recompense
  •  make amends
  •  atone for
  •  negate
  •  outweigh
  •  make up for
  •  equal
  •  equalize
  •  be equivalent
  •  redeem
  •  account

There are also a plethora of words and phrases that mean the opposite of the word offset. These opposite words are called antonym, which are another quick and easy way to expand your English vocabulary. This list of antonyms for the word offset is also provided by Thesaurus.

  •  discrepancy
  •  imparity
  •  imbalance
  •  disparity
  •  unevenness
  •  disproportion
  •  inadequacy
  •  irregularity
  •  difference
  •  unsuitableness
  •  inequality
  •  asymmetry
  •  insufficiency
  •  lopsidedness

Overall, the word offset means slightly set off from one thing or another. This word can be used as a noun or verb.


  1. offset | Origin and meaning of offset | Online Etymology Dictionary 
  2. DISPROPORTION Synonyms: 24 Synonyms & Antonyms for DISPROPORTION | Thesaurus 
  3. OFFSET Synonyms: 25 Synonyms & Antonyms for OFFSET | Thesaurus 
  4. offset: meaning, origin, translation | Word Sense 
  5. Offset | Definition of Offset | Merriam-Webster