<computer programming> An index or position in an array, string, or block of memory usually a non-negative integer.

E.g. the Perl function splice(ARRAY, OFFSET, LENGTH, LIST) replaces LENGTH elements starting at index OFFSET in array with LIST, where offset zero means the start of the array.

For an Intel x86 processor with a segmented address space the offset is the position of a byte relative to the start of the segment.

(01 Sep 2004)

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In general, that which is set off, from, before, or against, something; as:

1. <botany> A short prostrate shoot, which takes root and produces a tuft of leaves, etc.

2. A sum, account, or value set off against another sum or account, as an equivalent; hence, anything which is given in exchange or retaliation; a set-off.

3. A spur from a range of hills or mountains.

4. A horizontal ledge on the face of a wall, formed by a diminution of its thickness, or by the weathering or upper surface of a part built out from it; called also set-off.

5. A short distance measured at right angles from a line actually run to some point in an irregular boundary, or to some object.

6. <mechanics> An abrupt bend in an object, as a rod, by which one part is turned aside out of line, but nearly parallel, with the rest; the part thus bent aside.

7. A more or less distinct transfer of a printed page or picture to the opposite page, when the pages are pressed together before the ink is dry or when it is poor. Offset staff, a rod, usually ten links long, used in measuring offsets.

Origin: Off + set. Cf. Set-off.

(01 Mar 1998)

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