#116 – TO PAY OFF

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1. to get the benefit of something later

2. to repay a loan or debt

3. to bribe someone to do something bad

4. to bribe someone to keep a secret

Hello, this is Luke Thompson and you’re listening to A Phrasal Verb a Day. It’s been quite a long time since I did one of these but I’m back and here’s another one for you and, so this phrase is ‘to pay off’, ‘pay off’, okay? ‘Pay’ like ‘pay money’ and ‘off’ like the opposite of ‘on’. So, ‘to pay off’ and we’re going to look at about four different uses or meanings of these phrase including also the way it’s used as a noun.

So, first of all, if you do something that, sort of, pays off that means that it brings you benefit later on, for example:

– I did a training course on how to teach English as a foreign language and it really paid off later because when I went to Japan and started my first teaching job I was already really well-prepared. So, the training I did before, it really paid off when I went to Japan and started teaching.

Okay? So, something you do the later on brings you benefit and when it brings you benefit it really pays off, okay?

Here’s another one which is often passive and it means basically to give someone all the money that you borrowed from them before, okay? For example, you know,:

– I paid off my loan


– The loan was paid off

– I paid off my mortgage

– The mortgage was paid off

– I paid off all my debts

for example, OK?

Also… So, yeah, you might say:

– After a few months the loan will be completely paid off

Alright? So, that’s the second one.

Third one would be to… It’s a bit like ‘to make someone redundant’, ‘to lay them off’. So, that means to tell them to leave the job like when a boss tells a member of staff to leave their job but probably gives them some money as a kind of redundancy package. So, for example:

– Over a thousand of workers are expected to be paid off over the next few months


So, then we’ve got a couple of meanings that refer to sort of criminal behaviour or bad behaviour, sort of a crime, that sort of thing. So, it could be you… It’s like ‘to bribe someone’, so if you give someone money so that they do something bad, it’s a bit like bribing someone. So, you could say for example:

– Government officials were paid off by, you know, organised crime

– Government officials were paid off by the mafia

that kind of thing. That means the mafia gave government officials money so that the officials would do something. And also similarly if you give someone money so that they won’t say something, so that they’ll keep quiet, you can say that they’ve been paid off as well, okay? For example, you know:

– After the trial it became clear that the witnesses had all been paid off

meaning someone had bribed the witnesses to give the wrong information, OK?

And then the noun I mentioned earlier. That’s ‘a payoff‘, ‘a payoff’. So, it’s basically the noun version of all those things. So, if we start with the first one, you know, ‘a big payoff’ that means, like, a big benefit that you get later after having done something. So, there’s a big payoff for those people who go into management training because later on in their career it really pays off.

Also a one off, like… If you pay a big loan in one go then you put down a large payoff and that would just pay off the loan completely.

And also, you know, government officials were given a big payoff, for example that would mean, you know, they were bribed.

Okay? That’s it for this episode of ‘A Phrasal Verb a Day’. Do not forget to visit teacherluke.co.uk and click on the Phrasal Verb button in the menu and you’ll find all of the phrasal verbs, all of the notes associated with them and also transcripts for pretty much every episode of ‘A Phrasal Verb a Day’ so far. So, do not forget to visit teacherluke.co.uk. You can check out ‘A Phrasal Verb a Day’ and also my other podcast which is called ‘Luke’s English Podcast’ where we cover a very wide range of different topics in quite a lot of depth. So, check that out as well. OK? Now, that’s the end of this episode.