pay off

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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 and Lou Gramm, "Rev on the Red Line" from 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.
  4. (transitive) To pay back (repay, pay off) the entirety of a loan, thereby effecting the release of a lien on.
    This contract requires you to pay off the car by 2025.
  5. (nautical) To fall to leeward, as the head of a vessel under sail.


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