"off" (as used at a restaurant or other dining place)

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Gavril, Apr 14, 2012.

  1. Gavril Senior Member

    English, USA

    What's the exact meaning of "off" when used at a restaurant, café or other place that serves food?

    For example, I recall hearing "off" used in contexts similar to both of these:

    (Customer, looking at the menu: ) "May I have the rock cod, please?"
    (Waiter: ) "Sorry, rock cod is off today."


    (Chef 1: ) "It looks like we have some rock cod in stock today -- let's make that today's special!"
    (Chef 2: ) "Sorry, the rock cod is off."
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2012
  2. pwmeek

    pwmeek Senior Member

    SE Michigan, USA
    English - American
    Off is useful for restaurants, as it is impossible for a customer to know whether it simply means the cod is off (the menu) today or positively reeking with old age. I suspect that most restaurants prefer it that way.

    By the way, off meaning not fit for human consumption is quite understated-British-sounding to these AE ears, although I have heard it here.
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2012
  3. Gavril Senior Member

    English, USA
    So, if a chef tells his co-worker "rock cod is off", would "off" normally mean the latter (or something close to it)?

    Yes, I'm not sure I've ever heard an American English speaker use it.
  4. PaulQ

    PaulQ Senior Member

    English - England
    Yes. If he tells a customer, it means that there is none left.
  5. sdgraham

    sdgraham Senior Member

    Oregon, USA
    USA English

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