Definition of live off (or on) in US English:

live off (or on)

phrasal verb

  • 1Depend on (someone or something) as a source of income or support.

    ‘if you think you're going to live off me for the rest of your life, you're mistaken’
    • ‘It's tempting to spend all your money and live off the state, or simply emigrate.’
    • ‘It is one of the poorest countries in the world, landlocked with poor transport facilities and most of the population living on subsistence farming.’
    • ‘He lives off investments and money from his wife's life insurance policy.’
    • ‘The majority of the population continues to live off subsistence agriculture, in villages or the slums that have sprung up around major urban centres.’
    • ‘In 1988, he was taken to court for rates still owed on his last pub and revealed that he was living on dole money.’
    • ‘This country has lived on somebody else's money - whether it has come from Asia, or America, or Europe - for too long.’
    • ‘Both of them are still living off his parents' money.’
    • ‘Instead, they continued living off their parents.’
    • ‘Her days as a single mother living on income support must now seem like a distant memory.’
    • ‘They had brought no possessions, and as islanders who had lived off fishing and farming, they had no real professional skills.’
    1. 1.1 Have (a particular amount of money) with which to buy food and other necessities.
      • ‘Relative poverty means someone living on an income of less than 60% of the average income or €164 per week.’
      • ‘I think it's a disgrace that elderly people are forced to live on such a low income.’
      • ‘‘Too many elderly people are living on a low income because rate increases have been much higher than pension increases,’ he said.’
      • ‘Some people are simply not earning enough money to live on and must make stark choices between eating or heating.’
      • ‘The scheme is administered by the health boards, who pay rent supplements to tenants living on low incomes in private rented accommodation, to help them with their weekly rent.’
      • ‘We lived off his monthly income of $986, plus housing allowance, for a few months before I got a part-time job.’
      • ‘She told me the money she lives on isn't enough to cover the bills.’
      • ‘One quarter of single parent families and pensioners are living on an income below the poverty line.’
      • ‘Many people in rural areas are living on incomes well below what most people enjoy.’
      • ‘The poorest 20 percent were living on a weekly income of less than $266.’
    2. 1.2 Subsist on (a particular type of food).
      • ‘There is some debate as to whether early hominids were scavengers living off the remains of animals brought down and killed by other beasts, or whether these groups were hunters in their own right.’
      • ‘They live off begged and stolen food, in a room blackened by the smoke of the struggling stove.’
      • ‘It is a simple life: they live on fish, and there are few predators.’
      • ‘For weeks they slept under banana trees and lived on scavenged food.’
      • ‘The terrified man was so intent not to be discovered that he refused to travel far for food and often lived off a diet of twigs and berries.’
      • ‘The calf must have survived by living off straw in the barn.’
      • ‘Maybe they caught fish, or perhaps lived on the animals on the mountain side.’
      • ‘Dales farmers are being encouraged to swap sheep for herds of traditional types of cattle like blue greys and short horns that can survive the harsh winters living off the rough grasses.’
      • ‘She survived for a few years by living off of food scraps reluctantly donated by the citizens.’
      • ‘We've been here two days living off food we find.’
      subsist on, feed off, feed on, rely for nourishment on, thrive on, depend on
      View synonyms
    3. 1.3 (of a person) eat, or seem to eat, only (a particular type of food)
      ‘she used to live on bacon and tomato sandwiches’
      • ‘He lived on fast food, and cartons and unfinished takeaways lay in every corner of his home.’
      • ‘We're living off pate and dips.’
      • ‘In his whole life he had never experienced such complex food; living off ready-meals for the last years seemed to have made his mouth accustomed to blandness.’
      • ‘Exclusive reliance on the car is the equivalent of living on fast food burgers - there should be no surprise if we get sick.’
      • ‘She lives on cake and soup, which she heats up on a little ring right there in her room.’
      • ‘For some time, the patient has been living off junk food, in particular pizza with cold iced drinks.’
      • ‘Some folks here at work tried low carb, living on bacon for several weeks.’
      • ‘Cooking natural ingredients from scratch is far cheaper than living off processed foods.’
      • ‘To their dismay they found out that many of them failed to take greens, leafy vegetables, pulses and cereals, and instead lived on fast food and colas.’
      • ‘Being born and raised in California and living off of Mexican food was going to make my life a bit interesting over here.’