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I know what buy means but I'm a little confused about 'buy off.' According to a dictionary it means 'to give someone money so that person will help you or let you do something that is not legal.' 

Is it like bribing? Can I say:

- These people bought off the police. - To mean that they paid the police and now the police won't take any action against them for doing illegal  business.

Original Post

I know what buy means but I'm a little confused about 'buy off.' According to a dictionary it means 'to give someone money so that person will help you or let you do something that is not legal.' 

Is it like bribing?

Hi, Ashraful—To buy someone off is indeed comparable to bribing him. Indeed, at least one online dictionary defines "buy off" as meaning "bribe" (see here).

The basic idea is that the person who is bought off may otherwise have done something harmfully affecting the one who has bought that person off. 

Here is the OED's entry for "buy off":

Quote:

 1. transitive. To induce (a person) by payment, to relinquish a claim, a course of action, etc.; to get rid of (a claim, a person's opposition or interference) by paying money to the claimant or opponent. Often figurative.

1629   J. Earle Micro-cosmogr. (ed. 5) xxxiv. sig. G4v   One whom no rate can buy off from the least piece of his freedome.
1851   H. Martineau Hist. Eng. (1878) i. iv. 89   Buying off the Prince's claim for the revenues of the Duchy of Cornwall.
1865   R. C. Trench Gustavus Adolphus ii. 65   To buy off the presence of troops by enormous gifts to their captains.
1868   E. A. Freeman Hist. Norman Conquest (1876) II. ix. 408   Gruffydd was perhaps bought off in this way.

Hi, Ashraful—To buy someone off is indeed comparable to bribing him. Indeed, at least one online dictionary defines "buy off" as meaning "bribe" (see here).

The basic idea is that the person who is bought off may otherwise have done something harmfully affecting the one who has bought that person off. 

Here is the OED's entry for "buy off":

Quote:

 1. transitive. To induce (a person) by payment, to relinquish a claim, a course of action, etc.; to get rid of (a claim, a person's opposition or interference) by paying money to the claimant or opponent. Often figurative.

1629   J. Earle Micro-cosmogr. (ed. 5) xxxiv. sig. G4v   One whom no rate can buy off from the least piece of his freedome.
1851   H. Martineau Hist. Eng. (1878) i. iv. 89   Buying off the Prince's claim for the revenues of the Duchy of Cornwall.
1865   R. C. Trench Gustavus Adolphus ii. 65   To buy off the presence of troops by enormous gifts to their captains.
1868   E. A. Freeman Hist. Norman Conquest (1876) II. ix. 408   Gruffydd was perhaps bought off in this way.

Thank you very much.

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