1. something that counterbalances, counteracts, or compensates for something else; compensating equivalent.
  2. the start, beginning, or outset.
  3. a short lateral shoot by which certain plants are propagated.
  4. an offshoot or branch of a specific population or family.
  5. any offshoot; branch.
  6. Also called offset printing, offset lithography. Lithography.
    1. a process in which a lithographic stone or metal or paper plate is used to make an inked impression on a rubber blanket that transfers it to the paper being printed, instead of being made directly on the paper.
    2. the impression itself.
  7. Also called setoff. Printing. an unintentional transfer of excess or undried ink from one printed sheet to another.
  8. Geology.
    1. (in faults) the magnitude of displacement between two previously aligned bodies.
    2. a spur of a mountain range.
  9. Machinery. a jog or short displacement in an otherwise straight and continuous line, as in a pipe, lever, or rod, made to avoid objects or to connect with other parts.
  10. Architecture. setoff(def 3).
  11. Surveying.
    1. a short distance measured perpendicularly from a main survey line.
    2. Also called offset line.a line a short distance from and parallel to a main survey line.
  12. Naval Architecture. any of the coordinates by which any point on a hull being planned is located.


  1. of, noting, or pertaining to an offset.
  2. Lithography. pertaining to, printed by, or suitable for printing by offset.
  3. placed away from a center line; off-center.
  4. placed at an angle to something, as to the axis of a form, shape, or object; not parallel.

verb (used with object), off·set, off·set·ting.

  1. to counterbalance as an equivalent does; compensate for: The gains offset the losses.
  2. to juxtapose with something else, as for purposes of comparison: to offset advantages against disadvantages.
  3. Printing.
    1. to make an offset of.
    2. to print by the process of offset lithography.
  4. Architecture. to build with a setoff, as a wall.
  5. Surveying. to establish (a line) parallel to a main survey line at an offset.

verb (used without object), off·set, off·set·ting.

  1. to project as an offset or branch.
  2. to counterbalance or compensate.
  3. Printing. to make an offset.

noun (ˈɒfˌsɛt)

  1. something that counterbalances or compensates for something else
  2. an allowance made to counteract some effect
    1. a printing method in which the impression is made onto an intermediate surface, such as a rubber blanket, which transfers it to the paper
    2. (modifier)relating to, involving, or printed by offsetoffset letterpress; offset lithography
  3. another name for set-off
  4. botany
    1. a short runner in certain plants, such as the houseleek, that produces roots and shoots at the tip
    2. a plant produced from such a runner
  5. a ridge projecting from a range of hills or mountains
  6. the horizontal component of displacement on a fault
  7. a narrow horizontal or sloping surface formed where a wall is reduced in thickness towards the top
  8. a person or group descended collaterally from a particular group or family; offshoot
  9. surveying a measurement of distance to a point at right angles to a survey line

verb (ˌɒfˈsɛt) -sets, -setting or -set

  1. (tr) to counterbalance or compensate for
  2. (tr) to print (pictures, text, etc) using the offset process
  3. (tr) to construct an offset in (a wall)
  4. (intr) to project or develop as an offset

n.1550s, “act of setting off” (on a journey, etc.), from off + set (adj.). Meaning “something ‘set off’ against something else, a counterbalance” is from 1769; the verb in this sense is from 1792. As a type of printing, in which the inked impression is first made on a rubber roller then transferred to paper, it is recorded from 1906.

  1. A shoot that develops laterally at the base of a plant, often rooting to form a new plant. Many succulents and cacti are propagated by removing offsets and planting them elsewhere. See more at vegetative reproduction.
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