Call It Off: Definition, Meaning, and Origin

Last Updated on
October 17, 2023

The phrase "call it off" is a direct instruction or request to cancel or abort a planned event, action, or procedure. Used in various contexts, this expression conveys the speaker's desire to halt proceedings, often due to changed circumstances, unforeseen complications, or a reassessment of the situation.

In short:

"Call it off" means to cancel or abandon a previously arranged plan or event.

What Does "Call It Off" Mean?

The phrase "call it off" is used to signify the act of canceling or stopping a planned action or event. People might use it when discussing events, meetings, or relationships.

Here are the key aspects:

  • It is often used when a plan is deemed unnecessary or unfeasible.
  • It can relate to both small-scale and large-scale events.
  • It has variations like "calling off" or "called off."

Understanding this idiom is useful, as it appears frequently in everyday conversation and writing.

Where Does "Call It Off" Come From?

The origin of the idiom "call it off" isn't definitively traced, but it has been in use for several centuries, evolving with time and context.

Historical records show instances of its usage dating back to the 1600s, implying that it has been a part of English language expression for quite some time.

10 Examples of "Call It Off" in Sentences

Here are some examples to illustrate the various ways this idiom can be used:

  • Just as we were gearing up for the event, the storm came out of nowhere. We had no choice but to call it off.
  • They decided to call off the wedding at the last minute.
  • I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but we must call it off due to unforeseen circumstances.
  • No offense meant, but I think it's best to call it off for now.
  • If we don't reevaluate our approach, the project could get axed, so we might as well call it off before investing more resources.
  • After the argument, Mary called off the engagement.
  • The meeting was called off due to a lack of attendance.
  • While our plans were nearly set in stone, unexpected budget cuts forced us to call it off.
  • The police called off the search after finding no evidence.
  • I didn't expect you to pull the rug from under me and call it off at the last minute.

Examples of "Call It Off" in Pop Culture

This idiom has been featured in various pop culture contexts:

  • "Call Off The Dogs" is a song title by Mike and The Mechanics, demonstrating a variation of the idiom.
  • "Call It Off" is a song by Tegan and Sara about a deteriorating relationship.
  • "Call It Off" is also the name of a Dutch pop punk band formed in Eindhoven, Netherlands, in 2013. The band was founded by guitarist and vocalist Maurice Bolier.

Synonyms: Other/Different Ways to Say "Call It Off"

There are several other ways to convey a similar meaning:

Here's a list of alternatives:

  • Cancel
  • Abort
  • Postpone
  • Suspend
  • Terminate

10 Frequently Asked Questions About "Call It Off":

  • What does "call it off" mean?

It means to cancel or abandon a previously arranged plan or event.

  • Where does the idiom "call it off" come from?

It has been in use for several centuries, with records dating back to the 1600s.

  • Can "call it off" be used in different contexts?

Yes, it can be used in various contexts, such as cancelling events, meetings, or relationships.

  • Is "call it off" used in formal writing?

While more common in informal speech, it can appear in formal writing depending on context.

  • Can this idiom be used in past tense?

Yes, it can be modified to past tense as "called off."

  • Is this idiom used in other languages as well?

Similar expressions with equivalent meanings exist in many languages.

  • How often is "call it off" used in everyday English?

It is a fairly common idiom in everyday conversation and writing.

  • Can "call it off" refer to ending relationships?

Yes, it can refer to ending both platonic and romantic relationships.

  • Are there songs titled with this idiom?

Yes, several songs feature this idiom or variations of it in their titles.

  • Is "call it off" the same as postponing?

Not exactly, postponing implies rescheduling, while "call it off" often means cancelling altogether.

Final Thoughts About "Call It Off"

"Call it off" is a versatile expression, instrumental when there's a need to halt or cancel a planned action or event. Whether you're in a casual setting, deciding to cancel meetups, or in a formal scenario, terminating a project, "call it off" is a phrase that conveys decisiveness and authority.

Here's a quick wrap-up:

  • It means canceling or abandoning a plan or event.
  • It has diverse applications, from everyday conversations to literary and media contexts.
  • Understanding this idiom, its variations, and its origin can enhance communication skills.

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