What does the idiom "off the point" mean?

You are wondering about the meaning of the phrase off the point, maybe you heard it in a TV show, movie or theater play. Although this idiom is not used very often, it enriches your capacity of expression and strengthens communication. In which case is the expression off the point used and what is its meaning?

Meaning of "off the point"


The phrase “off the point” is an idiom used to indicate that something is irrelevant and not related to the topic at hand. It is used to criticize someone for straying away from the discussion topic. Therefore, when someone is “off the point,” they are not discussing the relevant issues.


The phrase “off the point” has its origins in the late 17th century and is derived from the Latin term “punctum” or “point.” In its literal form, the phrase meant “a point removed or taken away.” Later, it was used metaphorically to refer to an argument or discussion that strayed from its original purpose. The phrase was widely used by the beginning of the 19th century, with the earliest written record of the phrase being found in 1823.


The phrase “off the point” is used to indicate that someone is straying away from the relevant topic during a discussion or argument. This phrase is used in informal settings, and is most often used when people want to express their disapproval of the direction of the conversation. It is also often used to redirect the conversation back to the original discussion topic.

Example Sentences

  • “Can we please stay on topic? We’re getting off the point here.”
  • “I think you’re getting off the point. Let’s get back to the issue at hand.”
  • “I understand what you’re trying to say, but it’s a bit off the point.”
  • “You’re getting off the point here. Can we please stay focused on what we’re discussing?”

The meanings of the words in the "off the point" idiom

From Shakespeare to Social Media: The Evolution of English Idioms

English idioms have been around for centuries, with many originating from sources like literature, mythology, and everyday life. Shakespeare, for example, coined many phrases that are still used today, such as "break the ice" and "heart of gold." Over time, new idioms have emerged, with social media and popular culture providing rich sources of inspiration. For instance, the phrase "throwing shade" came into use in the 1990s thanks to ball culture, but has since been popularized by social media.


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