“based off of”?

I notice that Americans under the age of 30 are now saying “based off of” instead of “based on.” I Googled to see if that was a trend and found this handy graph by Ann Curzan:

In published books, “based on” still outnumbers “based off of” by a ratio of 100,000:1, but “based off” has risen (from zero instances) since ca. 1980. Of course, books do not provide a representative sample of all communication, since young adults publish relatively few of them, and young authors tend to be copy-edited by older people. In speech and emails, “based off of” is clearly becoming more common.

I personally prefer “based on” because one preposition is neater than two in a row, and the metaphor makes more sense if something is on rather than “off of” a base. I concede, however, that language evolves and there is nothing sacrosanct about which prepositions follow each verb. (And if I’m going to complain, the use of “around” to indicate a topic seems worse.)

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About Peter

Associate Dean for Research and the Lincoln Filene Professor of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Tufts University's Tisch College of Civic Life. Concerned about civic education, civic engagement, and democratic reform in the United States and elsewhere.