In the Offing – Idiom, Origin and Meaning

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Candace Osmond

Candace Osmond studied Advanced Writing & Editing Essentials at MHC. She’s been an International and USA TODAY Bestselling Author for over a decade. And she’s worked as an Editor for several mid-sized publications. Candace has a keen eye for content editing and a high degree of expertise in Fiction.

“In the offing” isn’t a phrase you hear every day, but it’s still important to learn what it means and see how it’s meant to be used. So, I’ll explain its origin and even whip up a few sentence examples to give you a better idea of how you can work it into conversations or writing.

In the Offing Meaning Broken Down

In the Offing Idiom Origin Meaning

If something is likely to happen or is expected to occur sometime in the not-too-distant future, then it’s in the offing. We sometimes use this term in English to describe events or even situations that are just plain imminent. You can apply it to anything that’s considered “on the horizon” in an inevitable way.

The perfect example would be my next published book. I’m still working on it, but I’m planning for its release later this year. So, I could say my publish date is in the offing.

Where Did the Phrase “in the Offing” Come From?

The phrase “in the offing” actually originates from nautical terminology; I know this without even thinking about it because I remember my grandfather saying it all the time, and he was once a fisherman.

In maritime language, the “offing” by itself was used to refer to the part of the sea that was visible from the shore but beyond the anchoring ground. Ships in the offing were said to be close to land but not yet docked or anchored.

Then the phrase just evolved over time and took on more of a metaphorical meaning to represent anything that was anticipated but not yet realized.

Other Ways to Say “in the Offing”

These synonyms work interchangeably with the idea of “in the offing,” so feel free to use them instead if this term is not a great fit for what you need it for.

  • On the horizon
  • In the near future
  • Imminent
  • Just around the corner
  • Approaching
  • Looming
  • Coming up

In the Offing Examples in a Sentence

In the Offing Idiom Origin Meaning 1

I always try my best to provide the best idea and context surrounding a word or phrase. So, a few sentence examples will usually do the trick.

  • With summer vacation in the offing, I’m preparing to rearrange my work-from-home schedule to accommodate my kids being home every day.
  • The big tech CEO just announced that a major product launch was in the offing, and the buzz is already generating among industry insiders.
  • After months of writing this book, publishing it is finally in the offing.
  • Here in Newfoundland, if the sky suddenly turns grey, you know a rainstorm is in the offing.
  • A tense negotiation is in the offing between my two clients because they’re rival companies.

What’s in the Offing for You?

The next time you need to describe something on the horizon or something that feels inevitable, use the phrase “in the offing” to sound way smarter! Also, in writing, it can add a deeper level of understanding for the reader.