In Reply to: Off the streets posted by Smokey Stover on August 29, 2008 at 13:56:
: : What does the phrase "off the streets" imply? Used in the context of a new person coming into a place with no prior knowledge of the person.
: Mike, are you quite sure you mean "off the streets" as opposed to "off the street"? It makes a good deal of difference. Someone in your office may say something like, "John? Oh, I think the boss just hired him off the street. He doesn't seem to have any training, and doesn't seem to know what he's doing." Or possibly, "Janice just hired him off the street, as he looked like a potentially good model." I don't know if this fits what you had in mind, but it seems possible. In this sense, "off the street" is not too far distant from "out of nowhere."
: On the other hand, "off the streets" is where you try to get someone whose manner of living is dangerous to himself or to others, who lives too close to the seamy side of life. We try to get criminals off the streets and into detention, for the most part. We try to get friends and relatives who have become junkies or prostitutes or drunken bums off the streets and into rehabilitation.
: The distinction I have made is probably not rigidly adhered to, but seems to me to be generally observed.
I would say that the distinction is pretty generally observed over here too (UK and Ireland).