set off

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Setoff

1. The ability of a debtor to reduce the amount of one's debt by an amount the creditor owes to the debtor. Thus, if a debtor owes a creditor $20,000 but the creditor owes the debtor $5,000 in an unrelated matter, setoff allows the debtor effectively to owe only $15,000.

2. In banking, the right of a bank to seize a debtor's account balance held at that bank if a debt is in or near default. Some jurisdictions limit the right of setoff; for example, the United States does not allow it to apply for commercial loans or credit card debt.

set off

To deduct debts from each other.Oftentimes defaulting debtors will claim that they have not paid their obligations because of a right of setoff against injuries suffered as a result of wrongdoing by the creditor.Lenders with bank deposits in the name of their borrower may set off the bank account against the mortgage debt if there is a default.

References in classic literature ?
Beneath the second dial he found the steel pin severed as in the other, but the controlling mechanism had first been set for a point upon the western hemisphere.
As soon as we were all set in our places, the boat was thrust off from the pier and began to move over the waters: and what with my pleasure in this new movement and my surprise at our low position, and the appearance of the shores, and the growing bigness of the brig as we drew near to it, I could hardly understand what the captain said, and must have answered him at random.
They wept bitterly in their dismay, but there was nothing to be got by crying, so I divided them into two companies and set a captain over each; I gave one company to Eurylochus, while I took command of the other myself.
And this will now plainly appear, if, instead of serious and comic, we supply the words duller and dullest; for the comic was certainly duller than anything before shown on the stage, and could be set off only by that superlative degree of dulness which composed the serious.
He had taken the lady as far as Fromelles; and from Fromelles she had set out for Armentieres.
To this place caravans of Abyssinia are continually resorting, to carry salt into all parts of the empire, which they set a great value upon, and which in their country is of the same use as money.
Almost each morning a letter from my owners would arrive, directing me to go to the charterers and clamour for the ship's cargo; to threaten them with the heaviest penalties of demurrage; to demand that this assortment of varied merchandise, set fast in a landscape of ice and windmills somewhere up-country, should be put on rail instantly, and fed up to the ship in regular quantities every day.
Time passed on; and as the eldest son did not come back, and no tidings were heard of him, the second son set out, and the same thing happened to him.
Between 1768 and 1772 the Scotch traveller, Bruce, set out from Massowah, a port of Abyssinia, traversed the Tigre, visited the ruins of Axum, saw the sources of the Nile where they did not exist, and obtained no serious result.
She at once set to work afresh and they now trusted her completely.
I look at him quite impartially, and I see that he has some notions--that he has set things on foot-- which I can turn to good public purpose.
But soon, in spite of his love for his wife, in spite of his interest in his beautiful home, in spite of his many friends, Raleigh's restless spirit again drove him to the sea, and he set out on a voyage of discovery and adventure.