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1. verb To leave the dock, as of a ship and its crew. A noun or pronoun can be used between "cast" and "off." We won't be staying here for long—we cast off again at sunrise.
2. verb To remove, dispose of, or shed something. A noun or pronoun can be used between "cast" and "off." Once you become a parent, you might decide to delegate more of your tasks—or cast off the title of CEO entirely. Mom told me I have to cast some things off before I'm allowed to add any more clothes to my closet. To attempt that daring jump on your bike, you'll need to cast off your fears.
3. verb To approximate how much space a manuscript will fill once typeset. A noun or pronoun can be used between "cast" and "off." You'll get a better idea of your novel's length in print once the publisher casts it off.
4. verb To remove the last row of stitches from the needle and complete the edge of a knitting project. A noun or pronoun can be used between "cast" and "off." Now that the blanket is long enough, the next step is to cast off.
5. noun Someone or something that has been ignored, overlooked, or rejected. The phrase is often hyphenated in this usage. Of course you're still my best friend, not some cast-off! I just haven't had time to call you this week, that's all. Once you sort through your closet, give me any cast-offs, and I'll sell them at the yard sale.
6. noun An approximation of how much space a manuscript will fill once typeset. In this usage, the phrase can be written as one word ("castoff"). A castoff will give you a better idea of your novel's length in print.
cast off (from something)
[for the crew of a boat or ship] to push away from the dock or pier; to begin the process of navigating a boat or ship. The crew cast off from the dock. It's time to cast off.
cast off something
to get rid of something Shirts and ties were being cast off in favor of informal clothes for business.
Etymology: based on the literal meaning of cast off (to unfasten the ropes holding a ship)
1. Discard, reject, as in He cast off his clothes and jumped in the pool. This term was already used figuratively in Miles Coverdale's translation of the Bible (1535): "Thy mother ... that hath cast off her housebonds and her children" (Ezekiel 16:45).
2. Let go, set loose, as in He cast off the line and the boat drifted from the dock. [Second half of 1600s]
3. In knitting, to finish the last row of stitches, that is, take the stitches off the needle and form a selvage. For example, Your sweater is finished; I just have to cast off. [Late 1800s] Also see cast on, def. 1.
1. To discard or reject something: Each year the principal would cast off her role as disciplinarian and perform in the school play. The load was too heavy, so we cast it off and left it behind.
2. To let something go; set something loose: I cast off the bow line and let the boat drift in the current. The crew grabbed the lines and cast them off as the captain started the engines. The crew remained on the boat, ready to cast off at the first sign of trouble.
3. To estimate the space some manuscript will occupy when set into type: The publisher cast off the manuscript to see how long the book would be. We cast each chapter off separately in order to save time.
4. Chiefly British To secure some number of stitches in knitting and form an edge by lifting one stitch over the next: When the scarf was the correct length, I cast off. Cast off 12 stitches on the next row to make the neck edge. Make 5 stitches on the next row and cast them off.