off the blocks

off the blocks

or

out of the blocks

If someone is quick or slow off the blocks or out of the blocks, they are quick or slow to do something, and if they are first or last off the blocks, they are first or last to do something. Note: These expressions come from athletics, where sprinters (= runners of fast, short races) put their feet against pieces of equipment called starting blocks to help them start quickly when the race begins. Both newspapers were quick off the blocks to put the minister's remarks on their front page. The Liberal Democrats were first off the blocks with their manifesto on Monday. Note: You can also say off the starting blocks instead of off the blocks. Buyers who were a little slow off the starting blocks to bid for the property now have another chance. Note: You can also say something gets off the blocks, meaning that something starts, especially despite difficulties. That should be an interesting project, if it ever gets off the blocks.
See also: block, off