Definition of of in English:

of

Pronunciation /ɒv//(ə)v/

preposition

  • 1Expressing the relationship between a part and a whole.

    1. 1.1 With the word denoting the part functioning as the head of the phrase.
      ‘the sleeve of his coat’
      ‘in the back of the car’
      ‘the days of the week’
      • ‘Anna tightened her grip on the handle of the sword.’
      • ‘I reached into the pocket of my jeans and took out a scrap of paper.’
      • ‘Alana wiped her tears with the sleeve of her sweater.’
      • ‘Ben sat down heavily on the edge of the bed.’
      • ‘She was lying on the floor of the bathroom adjoining the main bedroom.’
      • ‘Our kids were still asleep in the back of the car.’
      • ‘Moderate to vigorous exercise - if done most days of the week - also goes a long way toward keeping your heart healthy.’
      • ‘Seal the lid of the container tightly and tape the lid with duct tape.’
    2. 1.2 After a number, quantifier, or partitive noun, with the word denoting the whole functioning as the head of the phrase.
      ‘nine of the children came to the show’
      ‘a series of programmes’
      with mass noun ‘a piece of cake’
      • ‘He wasn't interested in financial success, unlike most of his team mates.’
      • ‘He grabbed a handful of fries and started eating.’
      • ‘Police said two of the men charged were using false identities.’
      • ‘What I'd like right now is an enormous slice of chocolate cake.’
      • ‘Some of the children had fallen asleep.’
      • ‘She went inside and poured another cup of coffee.’
      • ‘His career as television's pre-eminent art historian started with a series of programmes made for ITV.’
      • ‘It costs a lot of money to make a movie.’
      • ‘She decided to buy a bottle of champagne and celebrate with Michele.’
      • ‘This is really what the island is known for - the gorgeous 12-mile stretch of fine sand.’
      equal to, up to, capable, of, suited to, suitable for, able to do, qualified for, fit for, good enough for, sufficient for
      View synonyms
  • 2Expressing the relationship between a scale or measure and a value.

    ‘an increase of 5%’
    ‘a height of 10 metres’
    • ‘Male lions can attain a weight of up to 225 kg.’
    • ‘The rise represents an increase of 36 per cent over three years.’
    • ‘Apple trees normally grow to a height of 20 to 30 feet.’
    • ‘The shares responded with a fall of 117.5p to 185p.’
    1. 2.1 Expressing an age.
      ‘a boy of 15’
      • ‘He was a man of middle age, tall with brown hair.’
      • ‘For a baby of only three months, she was remarkably heavy.’
      • ‘A thin woman stepped out of another room, a baby of six or seven months balanced on her hip.’
      • ‘Almost 40 years ago, as a boy of ten, I was subjected to persistent bullying at a new school.’
  • 3Indicating an association between two entities, typically one of belonging, in which the first is the head of the phrase and the second is something associated with it.

    ‘the son of a friend’
    ‘the government of India’
    ‘a photograph of the bride’
    with a possessive ‘a former colleague of John's’
    • ‘He was wearing an old black silk shirt of Andy's, which was far too big for him.’
    • ‘Detective Superintendent Parkinson said they were keen to trace the owner of a black car parked outside the West End Bar.’
    • ‘The waitress who greeted me when I arrived turned out to be a former colleague of mine.’
    • ‘Kevin was an old friend of Ryan's’
    • ‘He is the director of the Irish Council for Civil Liberties.’
    • ‘He was about five years older than me but I knew him as he was the son of one of my mum's friends’
    • ‘Back in the early 1960s, the government of Italy decided to set up an agency to regulate the production of wines.’
    • ‘On the cover was a photograph of an elderly couple, a man standing behind a lady with his arms wrapped tightly around her.’
    • ‘Any strategy based on a reduction of the role of the qualified teacher is potentially disastrous.’
    by, made by, done by, carried out by, caused by, from, in, of
    View synonyms
    1. 3.1 Expressing the relationship between an author, artist, or composer and their works collectively.
      ‘the plays of Shakespeare’
      ‘the paintings of Rembrandt’
      • ‘If you've heard the symphonies of Elgar, Walton and Vaughan Williams, these should certainly be next on your list.’
      • ‘Byzantium stands as an important symbol in the poems of Yeats.’
      • ‘At about this time Correggio travelled to Rome where he must have studied classical works and the paintings of Raphael and Michelangelo.’
      • ‘Music inspired by the plays of Shakespeare was the theme for Saturday night's 10th anniversary concert.’
      • ‘His mother sang and played the songs of Cole Porter and Jerome Kern’
  • 4Expressing the relationship between a direction and a point of reference.

    ‘north of Watford’
    • ‘The familiar chimneys of the main railway offices can be seen at the back, on the left of the picture.’
    • ‘He grew up in Encinitas, a small beach town just north of San Diego.’
    • ‘The property is around 30 miles south of London and is near Gatwick Airport.’
    • ‘Kentucky is the largest beef-producing state east of the Mississippi.’
  • 5Expressing the relationship between a general category or type and the thing being specified which belongs to such a category.

    ‘the city of Prague’
    ‘the idea of a just society’
    ‘the population of interbreeding individuals’
    ‘this type of book’
    • ‘Her mother was an attractive woman of French-Canadian descent.’
    • ‘I like the idea of marriage as a life-long commitment.’
    • ‘Each building will be clearly marked on a map of the city.’
    • ‘According to myth, the city of Rome was founded by twin brothers, Romulus and Remus, in 753 BC.’
    • ‘This Government is sending a very clear and unequivocal message to the people of New Zealand.’
    • ‘She also said that the issue of education had come up again and again during her consultations with voters.’
    • ‘There is a serious problem with this type of book.’
    • ‘It was a packed house, with people of all ages enjoying a brilliant night out.’
    • ‘Two thirds of the artists were of Jewish backgrounds.’
    • ‘He let out a muffled cry of pain and fell to his knees.’
  • 6Following a noun derived from or related to a verb.

    • ‘There was no sound save for the howling of the wind outside.’
    • ‘Government officials waited in Darwin for the arrival of the vessels.’
    • ‘The thoughts of the people concerned were not taken into account.’
    • ‘The paper has been the topic of much media speculation since the departure of its managing director several weeks ago.’
    • ‘The £10,000 prize is awarded to the person who, in the opinion of the jury, has made the greatest contribution to art in the previous 12 months.’
    • ‘Under the governing charter, all UN countries are bound to accept the decision of the 15-member council.’
    • ‘Residents are already making preparations for the arrival of the hurricane.’
    1. 6.1 Followed by a noun expressing the subject of the verb underlying the first noun.
      ‘the arrival of the police’
      ‘the decision of the County Council’
      ‘the howling of the wind’
      • ‘Van Gogh, like so many other Impressionist and Post-Impressionist artists, was an admirer of Japanese art.’
      • ‘But even after the deal, there would be a cash shortfall and creditors will not receive full payment of their debts.’
      • ‘I almost went home, not particularly relishing the thought of an evening in a pub full of football supporters.’
      • ‘There has been strong criticism of the police for moving too slowly in the investigation.’
      • ‘He had nothing to do with the murder of the child.’
      • ‘This operation is an excellent example of how we are working with other agencies to clamp down on the selling of illegal goods.’
      • ‘75 percent of couples say that the preparation of the evening meal should be shared equally.’
    2. 6.2 Followed by a noun expressing the object of the verb underlying the first noun.
      ‘the murder of the two boys’
      ‘payment of his debts’
      ‘an admirer of Dickens’
      ‘I am certain of that’
      • ‘In the end, we can be certain of one thing: the future is not likely to be boring.’
      • ‘Those guys won't bother you anymore - I'll make sure of that.’
      • ‘He acted out of character and is ashamed of his behaviour that night.’
      • ‘This case would be coming to an end soon, he was sure of that.’
      • ‘She admits she's afraid of the dark.’
      • ‘He could face up to seven years in prison if found guilty of all charges against him.’
      • ‘She said she panics when people are behind her and has become suspicious of men.’
      • ‘I am really proud of her and I am sure she will do well at college.’
      • ‘Well, it was kind of him to let you stay here.’
  • 7Where the head of the phrase is a predicative adjective.

    ‘it was kind of you to ask’
    ‘I am certain of that’
  • 8Indicating the relationship between a verb and an indirect object.

    1. 8.1 With a verb expressing a mental state.
      ‘I don't know of anything that would be suitable’
      • ‘It's a fantastic achievement, particularly when you think of the competition we were up against.’
      • ‘Do you know of any grants, scholarships, or programs designed to help someone in my position?’
      • ‘There is a high proportion of this electorate who are not persuaded of his leadership abilities.’
      • ‘What do you think of the result of today's meeting?’
      • ‘I couldn't figure out a way to convince him of my love.’
    2. 8.2 Expressing a cause.
      ‘he died of cancer’
      • ‘He died of a heart attack at the age of 58.’
  • 9Indicating the material or substance constituting something.

    ‘the house was built of bricks’
    ‘walls of stone’
    • ‘They lived in a simple house with bamboo walls and a roof made of coconut leaves.’
    • ‘The furniture included a forties dresser, an oval sixties coffee table and two much newer Scandinavian-style bookcases of unvarnished pine.’
    • ‘The original buildings were constructed of timber and stone masonry, covered with white-washed plaster.’
    • ‘The bungalows are built of wood, concrete, and brick.’
    • ‘Pale walls of sand-colored stone encircled the town.’
  • 10North American Expressing time in relation to the following hour.

    ‘it would be just a quarter of three in New York’
    • ‘We were still eating supper when Gabe knocked on the door at quarter of eight.’
    • ‘I'd love to stay here with you, but it's ten of two.’
    • ‘I want you home by quarter of five because your grandma's coming for dinner at five.’

Usage

It is a mistake to use of instead of have in constructions such as you should have asked (not you should of asked). For more information, see have

Phrases

  • be of

    • Possess intrinsically; give rise to.

      ‘this work is of great interest and value’
      • ‘Warrington council has recognised the building as being of historical interest.’
      • ‘They were getting historic items that they felt were of too great an importance to sell on and should be on public display.’
      • ‘Many of the calls were of a difficult nature from distressed families with moving reports of missing people.’
      • ‘Why people read what they read and watch what they watch has recently been of interest to me.’
      • ‘Listen and make the other person feel that what he or she is saying is of interest to you.’
      • ‘The story was of particular interest to me as a New Zealander living in Australia.’
      • ‘Sgt Brown added the cars involved were of little value with only one new vehicle being seized over the past six months.’
      • ‘The school has a number of buildings listed as being of historic interest.’
      • ‘The rise in the rate of suicide amongst young people is of constant concern to our agency.’
      • ‘The software will be of interest to schools and museums, as well as town planners.’
  • of all

    • Denoting the least likely or expected example.

      ‘Jordan, of all people, committed a flagrant foul’
      • ‘Baise-Moi is a hardcore French art film that was banned in, of all places, France.’
      • ‘Amanda went weak with relief. He, of all men, had come to her rescue.’
      • ‘How ironic, you of all people, giving someone else a lecture on how to treat friends.’
      • ‘Though he says his writing was inspired by, of all people, Mickey Spillane, I suspect that's a bit of wry humor.’
  • of all the nerve

    • An expression of indignation.

      • ‘Jerry decided to give me a detailed explanation of some date he had, of all the nerve!’
  • of an evening (or morning etc.)

    • 1informal On most evenings (or mornings etc.).

      • ‘There's quite a chorus of noises because we've got ostriches and deer as well here, so there's quite a crescendo of different noises of an evening.’
      • ‘Thanks for confirming my long-held belief that I'm better off slowly destroying my liver than staying in of an evening.’
      • ‘You, on the other hand, will have loads of free time now to watch or play sport, or just go down the pub of an afternoon.’
      • ‘The last five years have seen a marked increase in the number of people abandoning the couch for the computer screen of an evening.’
      • ‘Instead of smoking six or seven cigarettes of a morning, I now make myself smoke only one.’
      • ‘We've come to delight in having a few tealights burning of an evening.’
      • ‘I'm usually online of an evening at some point between 6.00 pm and midnight (or after depending on sleep patterns) for a couple of hours.’
      • ‘She liked to spend time with me of a morning, before I walked to school and she went to work.’
      • ‘When I was growing up The Archers was a regular feature, always on in the kitchen of an evening and my sister and I were forced to keep quiet for the critical 15 minutes.’
      • ‘The menu consists solely of Thai dishes, which are delicious, beautifully prepared and reasonably priced, and which attract a large number of visitors - the rear dining area is often full of an evening.’
    • 2informal At some time in the evenings (or mornings etc.).

      • ‘Oh, sure, I've cringed a little when neighbours have strolled past of an evening, casting judgmental looks at the poor old place, all run-down and neglected as it was.’
      • ‘Occasionally, of an evening, I am prone to fits of activity which generally result in my strapping on the running shoes and going down to the riverbank for a jog.’
      • ‘I was really looking forward, for example, to having a jolly good read of an evening when the newest winner of England's Orange Prize was announced.’
      • ‘Besides, the three of you look impossibly cute when you're sat like that of an evening.’
      • ‘Now - you MUST bring Connie over to the club for dinner of an evening soon; my wife was only talking to her last week and she was saying it's been so long since we've all eaten together!’
      • ‘If you're generally stuck for something to have for dinner of an evening, then hop along to The Red Kitchen and see what people there are having.’
      • ‘We're getting the kitchen done at the moment, so much of my free time is spent packing stuff into boxes, then having to unpack the boxes to reach the food so we can actually eat of an evening.’
      • ‘When you settle down in the Mancini home of an evening, what flicks tend to get you all enraptured?’

Origin

Old English, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch af and German ab, from an Indo-European root shared by Latin ab and Greek apo.

Pronunciation

of

/ɒv//(ə)v/