Offhand means without prior thought or preparation; casual or spontaneous.


US English

UK English

Part of Speech



spontaneous, casual, extempore, impromptu, unprepared, unpremeditated, impulsive, unthinking, hasty, flippant, sudden.


Prepared, premeditated, calculated, deliberate, planned, thoughtful, considered, intentional, rehearsed.

Word Forms

Part of Speech Words
Noun None
Verb None
Adjective offhand
Adverb offhand

Example Sentences

  • I can’t think of an answer offhand, I’ll have to look it up.

  • In an offhand manner, he casually remarked on her new haircut, not realizing the immense effort and thought she had put into the change, unintentionally dismissing her feelings and undermining the significance of her personal choice, leaving her momentarily deflated and unseen.

  • His offhand manner didn’t seem to bother anyone, but I found it annoying.

  • When asked about his plans for the weekend he replied with an offhand remark about sleeping in.


The term ‘offhand’ is commonly used in English language either as an adjective or an adverb. As an adjective, it means something that is done without prior thought or preparation, that is casual or spontaneous in nature. As an adverb, it means to speak or act in a casual and often unthinking manner.

The word ‘offhand’ is derived from the phrase ‘off hand’ which literally meant to use one’s uninjured hand. This phrase can still be found in usage, especially in old literature. The prefix ‘off’ in this case denotes the absence of something, indicating the lack of preparation or forethought.

The word ‘offhand’ can be used in a variety of settings. For instance, a person may provide an offhand comment about something, implying that it was made without deliberate thought or intention. Similarly, an individual may give an offhand reply to a question, indicating that it was spontaneous and unrehearsed. In other contexts, ‘offhand’ can be used to describe an attitude or mannerism that is casual, effortless and natural.

It is important to note that the word ‘offhand’ can also carry a negative connotation if not used in the right context. For instance, describing someone as having an offhand demeanor can imply that they are uninterested or disengaged. Additionally, giving an offhand response in a professional setting can be perceived as unprofessional and unprepared.

In conclusion, the word ‘offhand’ is a versatile term in English language that can be used as an adjective or an adverb. It is derived from the phrase ‘off hand’ and denotes a lack of preparation or forethought. Although it can be used in various contexts, it is important to use it appropriately to avoid any negative implications.