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Begin your story well and you will hook readers from the off
10 good ways to start a story
What does "off" mean and why do we need "the" before it?
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"the off" is an idiomatic set phrase that means "the start/beginning". In my mind, I picture it as originating in the expression "... and they're off!" that is used when a horse race starts, but I don't know whether this is actually etymologically correct.

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The OED agrees with GPY that it refers to the start of a race. I have never heard the expression. I suspect it is more common in the UK than in the US.

anonymousThe OED agrees with GPY that it refers to the start of a race.

Thanks for checking that.