Off the record


What's the meaning of the phrase 'Off the record'?

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Something said in confidence that the speaker doesn’t want attributed to them.

What's the origin of the phrase 'Off the record'?

This is an American phrase and began to be used there in the 1930s. The first citation I have of it ‘on the record’ is in a report of a social event attended by President Franklin Roosevelt, in the North Carolina newspaper The Daily Times-News, November 1932:

“He [Roosevelt] said that he was going to talk ‘off the record’, that it was mighty nice to be able to talk ‘off the record’ for a change and that he hoped to be able to talk ‘off the record’ often in the future. He told a couple of funny stones and everybody laughed and cheered.”

See other phrases that were coined in the USA.

Trend of off the record 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.