pay off

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See also: payoff and pay-off



pay off (third-person singular simple present pays off, present participle paying off, simple past and past participle paid off)

  1. (transitive, informal) To bribe, especially to deter oversight.
    I thought the guards would give us trouble, but apparently he had paid them off.
    • 1979, Al Greenwood, Lou Gramm, “Rev on the Red Line”, in Head Games:
      I had to pay off the judge to get my license back.
  2. (intransitive) To become worthwhile; to produce a net benefit.
    Her years of Spanish classes finally paid off when she found herself in Mexico and realized she could communicate with people.
    • 2011 January 19, Jonathan Stevenson, “Leeds 1 - 3 Arsenal”, in BBC[1]:
      Wenger sent on Cesc Fabregas and Van Persie to try to finish Leeds off and with 14 minutes left the switch paid off as the Spaniard sent Bendtner away down the right and his wonderful curling cross was headed in by Van Persie at the far post.
  3. (transitive) To pay back; to repay.
    He paid off the loan three months early.
    • 2006, Noire [pseudonym], Thug-A-Licious: An Urban Erotic Tale, New York, N.Y.: One World, Ballantine Books, →ISBN, page 27:
      What Pimp was asking me to do was crazy. Off the fuckin' chain. Insane. He was scheming to stick up T.C. and Miss Lady's pool hall so we could pay off G, but a playa like me was getting ready to go to college and put all that two-bit robbing and stealing shit behind me.
  4. (transitive) To pay back (repay) the entirety of a loan, thereby effecting the release of a lien on (the thing that was financed).
    Coordinate term: pay down
    This contract requires you to pay off the car by 2025.
  5. (transitive) To pay and discharge (an employee).
    • 1959, Albert Lansing, Endurance, page 25:
      The cook, who had been an indifferent worker on the trip over, came aboard drunk and was immediately paid off. Amazingly, twenty men applied to fill the vacancy.
  6. (nautical) To fall to leeward, as the head of a vessel under sail.

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