Reference > Brewer’s Dictionary > Off-hand.

 Off (Saxon, of; Latin, ab, from, away).Off his Head. 
CONTENTS · BIBLIOGRAPHIC RECORD
E. Cobham Brewer 1810–1897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.
 
Off-hand.
 
Without preparation; impromptu. The phrase, “in hand,” as, “It was long in hand,” means that it was long in operation, or long a-doing; so that “off-hand” must mean it was not “in hand.”   1
 


 Off (Saxon, of; Latin, ab, from, away).Off his Head. 

 
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