Last Saturday I watched Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, which wasn’t really on my top-10 list of films to watch, but it seemed like a good choice for a relaxing Saturday night. I thought it was a bit syrupy, but the actors were good, so on balance I think it’s watchable. More importantly, I learnt a few new words and phrases (my husband constantly makes fun of how I rush to write something down as soon as I hear it, but I just can’t help it!).
One of them was ‘to come off‘ – as you might have guessed even if you haven’t watched the film,it was about introducing salmon to a man-made river in Yemen and initially most people were skeptical about the success of this venture (and rightly so!), but eventually the main character, an expert on salmon if ever there was one, said that ‘it might just come off‘, meaning, in this context, ‘it might succeed’ or ‘we might just pull it off’.
– The warm reception that he received refuted those who wondered whether the summit would come off, or if it could accomplish anything (Oxford Dictionary).
– Actively seeking risk makes sense for venture capitalists. Many of their gambles do not come off, but some of those that make it deliver huge rewards (The Economist).
Another meaning of ‘to come off‘ – I’ve found about 5 in total – is ‘to achieve a particular result in an activity, especially a competition or fight’ (Macmillan Dictionary):
– When banks go wrong, the biggest come off worst (The Economist).
– Even above the Brits, many touring Americans come off as culturally insensitive and arrogant among other things (The Economist).
P.S. In the US ‘to come off‘ is also used as a synonym of ‘to come across as‘, which is more popular in the UK.