"Give off" and "give out"


Italian (Italy)
Hello to everybody,
Is there any difference between give off and give out when used to say "produce something in the environment"? I have to choose from one of them in this multiple-choice question but I can't see the difference between them.

An old car might give .......... black fumes.
a. away
b. into
c. off
d. out
e. up

Thanks in advance :)
  • velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    I'm not sure that I agree with Glen here. If we are being asked to make a fine distinction, I'd say that a car does "give out" or "emit" fumes through its exhaust pipe. (The fumes emerge with some force.)

    A smouldering bonfire or a hazardous substance may give off noxious fumes. (The fumes are not propelled or channelled out, and they will slowly disperse from off the whole surface of the object.)

    suzi br

    Senior Member
    English / England
    I agree with both posters. My first thought was give off as the collocation for "give" in relation to gases.
    But Velisarius makes a good point about the option to use "out" here.

    I guess I'd prefer "emit" in real life because "give out" is a phrase I associate with dispensing items like this : Santa gave out the gifts.
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