Did you know?

Click any word in a definition or example to find the entry for that word

pay off

 - definitions and thesaurus

What are red words?

90% of the time, speakers of English use just 7,500 words in speech and writing. These words appear in red, and are graded with stars. One-star words are frequent, two-star words are more frequent, and three-star words are the most frequent.



The thesaurus of synonyms and related words is fully integrated into the dictionary. Click on the thesaurus category heading under the button in an entry to see the synonyms and related words for that meaning.

phrasal verb
Word Forms
present tense
I/you/we/theypay off
he/she/itpays off
present participlepaying off
past tensepaid off
past participlepaid off
  1. 1
    [intransitive] if something that you do pays off, it brings you some benefit

    All those weeks of studying will pay off when you take the exam.

  2. 2
    [transitive] to give someone all the money that you have borrowed from them to buy something

    Only another six months and the house will be paid off.

  3. 3
    [transitive] to stop employing a worker and give them any money that they are owed

    Over 1,000 workers will be paid off if this factory closes.

  4. 4
    [transitive] to give someone money so that they will do something bad or dishonest for you

    There were suspicions that officials had been paid off.

See also main entry: pay


… a teaching method in which groups of children learn independently using a computer linked to the internet

BuzzWord Article

Open Dictionary


a derogatory word used for referring to people in the banking and investment industry who are thought of as taking serious risks in order to increase their own earnings …

add a word


A must for anyone with an interest in the changing face of language. The Macmillan Dictionary blog explores English as it is spoken around the world today.

global English and language change from our blog