One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1In the most favourable or advantageous position; (now especially) best provided with money or other resources.
2With the. The most favourably placed, the best advantaged; the best provided.
In attributive use. Usually in form best-off. Most wealthy or well-to-do.
With the and plural concord. Those who are in the most favourable or advantageous position; especially people who are best off financially, considered as a class.
Mid 18th century. From best + off. Compare earlier better off, well off.
best off/ˌbɛst ˈɒf/
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