Off the Record (Origin)

by Craig Shrives

What Is the Origin of the Saying "Off the Record"?

The term "off the record" means non-attributable. In other words, it refers to something said in confidence or in an unofficial capacity.
Off the Record (Origin)

Examples of Use:

  • I have been out for a few dinners with him. Off the record, he's not a generous person.
  • There will be an announcement about a pay rise next week. Keep this to yourself. That was strictly off the record.
  • I will only speak off the record about Debra Winger. (Filmmaker Karel Reisz)
  • My wife and I love the series "Homeland." Sometimes, I ask news makers, off the record, what rings true about the show and what's ridiculous. (News presenter David Gregory)
This idiom was popularized by President Franklin Roosevelt in the 1930s. The following extract is from the North Carolina newspaper "The Daily Times-News," in 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 stories and everybody laughed and cheered."

Previous and Next Sayings

Test Your Knowledge of English Proverbs and Idioms

Ready for the Test?

More Proverbs, Sayings, and Idioms

Help Us Improve Grammar Monster

  • Do you disagree with something on this page?
  • Did you spot a typo?

Find Us Quicker!

  • When using a search engine (e.g., Google, Bing), you will find Grammar Monster quicker if you add #gm to your search term.
Next lesson >

See Also

What are idioms? What is figurative language? A list of common grammar errors A list of easily confused words A list of sayings and proverbs

Page URL