Eff off


What's the meaning of the phrase 'Eff off'?

Euphemistic version of ‘fuck off’.

What's the origin of the phrase 'Eff off'?

‘Eff’ is of course the proper spelling of the sixth letter of the alphabet and so, as well as being a euphemism, it is also an abbreviation of ‘fuck’.

‘Effing’ has been known as a euphemism for ‘fucking’ in the UK from the 1920s. Robert Graves used it in his autobiographical novel Good-bye to all that in 1929. Presumably, for it to be used in that context, it had existed as street slang for some years before 1929.

‘Eff off’, and ‘effing and blinding’, were coined a little later. Early examples of them are found in print from the 1940s and, like ‘effing’, were probably in circulation earlier.

‘The f-word’ is an American extension of the same euphemism and arose in the 1950s.

Trend of eff off in printed material over time

Gary Martin is a writer and researcher on the origins of phrases and the creator of the Phrase Finder website. Over the past 26 years more than 700 million of his pages have been downloaded by readers. He is one of the most popular and trusted sources of information on phrases and idioms.

Gary Martin

Writer and researcher on the origins of phrases and the creator of the Phrase Finder website. Over the past 26 years more than 700 million of his pages have been downloaded by readers. He is one of the most popular and trusted sources of information on phrases and idioms.