Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
- To stand some distance apart from something or someone.
- He stood off from the fire, for fear of getting scorched.
- (US) To prevent any would-be attacker from coming close by adopting an offensive posture.
- We took hold of anything that might serve as a weapon to stand off the menacing group of young men.
- (nautical, dated) To move away from shore.
1768, Edward Cavendish Drake, A New Universal Collection of Authentic Voyages and Travels, page 321:
- Here were ſome marks of the ſavages along the ſhore ; for the ſhip ſtood off and on a good way down ; but no drift-wood, beaſts or fiſh were found, nor any thing uſeful except a few fowls, one of which they shot.
1836, Washington Irving, Astoria, page 108:
- A boat was then dispatched to sound the channel, and attempt and entrance ; but returned without success, there being a tremendous swell, and breakers. Signal-guns were fired again in the evening, but equally in vain, and once more the ship stood off to sea for the night.
1952, C. S. Forester, chapter 8, Lieutenant Hornblower:
- When the tropic night closed down upon the battered Renown, as she stood off the land under easy sail, just enough to stiffen her to ride easily over the Atlantic rollers that the trade wind, reinforced by the sea breeze, sent hurrying under her bows, Buckland sat anxiously discussing the situation with his new first lieutenant.