Dance-off, Sing-off, etc.

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4 comments on this post.
  1. Frank T:

    One use needs to mentioned and that’s “Stand-off”. I guess the original use would have been when two armies are ready to go to battle, but they “stand off” from one another while negotiations take place. What thinks ye?

  2. CAtransplant:

    I, too, thought of standoff (or, as you suggest, stand-off) but came to the Reply section and noticed you’d beat me to it. Still, I thought it meant something different than you indicated (the first usage that came to mind was Mexican standoff) so I looked it up. It’s more a deadlock or tie occasioned by an actual or perceived belief of equality of the opponents. Also, I had thought it probably came about before 1880 since it feels like it’s been around longer than the other “off” usurpers, but no proof of that by me.

  3. Sian:

    When I leaned to play (field) hockey at school in the 1970s the start of play was called the bully-off. I’ve no idea where that comes from. It consisted of the two opposing centres hitting the ground and the opponents stick alternately three times, then going for the ball.

  4. Simon Heffer:

    So does that mean “finish-off” is tautologous?

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