Microspeak: Offline (noun)


Sure, any noun can be verbed, and any verb can be nouned. But today, we're going to noun an adjective.

I have no written citations of this usage; the only report was via a colleague who overheard it in a hallway conversion.

I had some offlines with Fred about that.

In Microspeak, offline is an adjective which means "outside this meeting." In order to keep a meeting on track, the meeting organizer may advise the people engaged in the discussion of a side topic or a topic of limited interest to take it offline, please, meaning discuss this amongst yourselves after the meeting, please. In other words, "Let's not waste valuable meeting time on this topic."

The above citation converts the adjective offline into a noun, an offline presumably being shorthand for an offline conversation (or other type of communication). The translation would therefore be something like "I had some private conversations with Fred about that."

Comments (20)
  1. BOFH says:

    What's a hallway conversion?

    Sounds like a transformer-move.

    [Nice. Just for that, I'm leaving the typo in! -Raymond]
  2. Some One says:

    I just thought "hallway conversion" was more Microspeak and the next blog would explain it.

  3. IA says:

    Nice. Just for that, I'm leaving the typo in!

    I like your sense of humor. :-)

  4. Paul says:

    A hallway conversion is a conversion of a adjective into a noun, when performed in the hallway!

  5. @BOFH: We're back to the Extracticons, aren't we?

  6. dave says:

    A 'hallway conversion' is what happens when a team member drags you out of the meeting to beat some sense into you.

  7. NotMe says:

    con-version is what the prisoner thought happened

  8. Larry Hosken says:

    I dunno about Microsoft-specific lingo, but at places I've worked, "Take it offline, please" during a meeting typically means "Instead of discussing this topic live, please discuss it online."

  9. Nick says:

    I'm pretty sure there's a buffalo buffalo buffalo joke in there somewhere…

  10. Simon says:

    Never seen it as a noun before, but expressions like "take it offline" aren't unique to Microsoft. For all I know, it might have originated there, but we've long used that phrase to indicate that something is out of scope for the current meeting…

  11. mike says:

    "OOF" works this way, too:

       Tom is OOF.

       I got an OOF from Tom when I pinged him.

  12. Drak says:

    @Mike: OOF = Out of Focus? In that case the person looking at Tom may need glasses :D

  13. Steve says:

    Hallway conversion? Is that like the bit in Inception where the gravity changes because they're falling into the river in the next-dream-up?

  14. cheong00 says:

    For what I heard, all dialog exchanges that's not accountable (i.e.: without recording and/or someone taking minutes) are offlines. So you can actually have offlines within meetings (say, when the meeting is on hold).

  15. Skyborne says:

    @cheong00 – that's usually called 'off the record', as in "[Discussion off the record]" in court transcripts.

  16. Chris says:

    Time Warner Cable uses "online" as a noun in the name of their "Road Runner High Speed Online" Internet service.  I almost couldn't type that, it's so wrong.

    I'm not against companies playing with language (I preferred BellSouth's old name, Southern Bell, because of the pun), but "high speed online" is just a train wreck.

  17. Mike says:

    Actually it's quite common to turn an adjective into a noun – it's just a shorthand where the object has been omitted, for example medical (examination), mobile (phone), perishables (goods), floppy (disk).

  18. Chris says:

    Good point, Mike.  I hadn't thought about those.  Maybe what bugs me about "high speed online" is that I think it's the wrong word.  I wouldn't have any trouble accepting "high speed Internet (service)".  However, "online (service)" implies to me it's the destination, like AOL for example, and not just a carrier.

  19. Chris

    If a high speed train wrecks, it'll probably come off the line.

  20. Timothy Byrd says:

    On some internet community or other, I seem to recall "offlines" as referring to people of the forum getting together in Real Life ™.

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