off the table: Idiom Meaning and Origin

What does ‘off the table’ mean?

The idiom "off the table" means that a possibility or option has been eliminated or is no longer being considered.

Idiom Explorer

Decoding "Forbidden Possibilities"

The idiom "off the table" is often used in discussions or negotiations when a particular option or proposal is deemed unacceptable or unattainable. It implies that the topic under consideration has been definitively ruled out or eliminated as a possibility. This could be due to various reasons, such as impracticality, infeasibility, or strong opposition from one or more parties involved.

For example, if a company is considering opening a new branch in a certain location, but the local government imposes excessive regulations and taxes, the company might eventually declare that the plan is "off the table." This means that the option of expanding into that particular location has been abandoned or dismissed due to the unfavorable conditions.

Furthermore, the idiom "off the table" can also be used in personal situations to express that a certain action or decision is no longer available. It implies that a choice that was previously open has been taken out of consideration or is no longer possible.

For instance, if someone is considering going on a vacation but encounters unexpected financial difficulties, they may declare that the vacation plans are "off the table." This indicates that the possibility of taking a vacation has been eliminated or postponed due to the financial constraints.

The idiom "off the table" signifies the removal or exclusion of a particular option or possibility. It originated from the literal act of removing an object from a table, symbolizing the elimination of that object from consideration. Whether it is used in discussions, negotiations, or personal situations, the idiom conveys a sense of finality and the definitive dismissal of a specific choice. It serves as a succinct way to communicate that something is no longer on the table for further consideration or pursuit.

The related idiom "on the table" is used in the opposite context. It implies that a particular option or proposal is currently under consideration or up for discussion. When something is "on the table," it means it is being actively explored or considered as a possibility. This idiom suggests openness and the potential for further action or decision-making.

The book fell off the table.

For instance, if a company is discussing potential strategies for increasing sales, various options might be "on the table" for consideration. This means that these options are being actively discussed and analyzed as potential courses of action for achieving the desired sales growth.

In personal situations, the idiom "on the table" can be used to indicate that a choice or decision is still being considered or is up for discussion. It suggests that there is an ongoing evaluation of different possibilities before reaching a final conclusion or making a decision.

Another related idiom is "out of the picture." This phrase is used to indicate that someone or something is no longer involved or relevant in a situation. When someone or something is "out of the picture," they are no longer a factor or consideration.

For example, in a business partnership where two individuals were working together, but one of them decides to leave the partnership, they can be said to be "out of the picture." This means that they are no longer part of the partnership and their involvement or influence is no longer relevant or considered.

In personal relationships, the idiom "out of the picture" can be used to express that someone is no longer involved or present in a person's life. It suggests that the person is no longer relevant or significant in the current situation or context.

Finally, there is the idiom "out of frame." This phrase is used in a literal or figurative sense to indicate that something or someone is not included or visible in a particular frame or context.

In a literal sense, when taking a photograph, if something is "out of frame," it means that it is not captured within the boundaries or view of the photograph. It suggests that the object or person is not visible or part of the composition of the image.

In a figurative sense, the idiom "out of frame" can be used to express that something or someone is not within the expected or usual context or setting. It suggests that the object or person is not part of the current situation or narrative.

Example usage

"Off the table" is an idiom that can be used in various situations. Here are three examples of how it can be used:

  1. After the intense negotiations, the proposal to increase the prices of our products was completely off the table.
  2. The option to have a destination wedding was off the table for John and Sarah due to their limited budget.
  3. During the meeting, the CEO made it clear that any discussion of layoffs was off the table, as the company was focused on finding alternative cost-cutting measures.

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