sign off (was dialect in novels)
James A. Landau
JJJRLandau at AOL.COM
Fri Mar 2 00:42:19 UTC 2001
In a message dated 03/01/2001 6:07:09 PM Eastern Standard Time,
tonyglaser at MINDSPRING.COM writes:
> where did "sign off" come from? Instead of
> waiting for the President or whoever to sign a bill or order, we now
> wait for him to "sign off on" something. What's wrong with him just
> signing an order? (are there other examples where "off on" occurs,
> other then "he gets off on annoying people" etc.?)
I beg to differ. (aside---do I have to get on my knees to do so?)
"to sign" and "to sign off on" have differing meanings.
If you "sign" something, you have put your signature on a document, with no
requirement that your signature creates a significant event.
If you "sign off on" something, then you have the authority to say yea or nay
on a decision of consequence and you have just decided yea, i.e. you have
authorized whatever it is to proceed.
You can sign off on a project verbally, without writing anything, by verbally
telling the appropriate person "Yes, go ahead and do x".
You can sign a routine document without signing off on a project. In fact,
if you sign a message that says "No, don't do x" you are refusing to sign off
As it happens the Constitution requires the President to sign a document when
he signs off on it.
- Jim Landau
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