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
on x.

As it happens the Constitution requires the President to sign a document when
he signs off on it.

                    - Jim Landau

More information about the Ads-l mailing list