1) This word has become more restricted in meaning over the centuries, and for many people now it signifies those parts of a butchered animal which remain when the carcass has been dressed, i.e. the kidneys, heart, tongue and liver.

It is said to have passed into English from the Dutch afval, literally the ‘off-fall’, that which has fallen off, and its wide range of early meanings included wood or leather that was not of the first quality: 1547 all the topes, loppes, barkkes and offall, South Crosland

1577 certen old planks and other offall of wood 6s 8d, Beverley

1580 and also the offall of all the said trees, viz so much … as wilbe no tymbre, Thurstonland. It was also a term in the fish trade, used of inferior or low-priced fish, not prime fish such as haddock, plaice and whiting: 1396 v last viml allecis bonć et iii last viiml de offall, Whitby. In the tanning industry, the word was used of inferior leather: 1622 Item, dry ouffel lether, Cottingley. A shoemaker called Stephen Embley of Slaidburn died in 1719, and the inventory of his goods included items In the shop such as leather curried ... sole leather and Offall leather. This was defined in a Quarter Sessions document of 1736 as pieces of leather called offolds of cows’ hides ... the least useful scraps . A tannery in Keldgate, Beverley which specialised in the early 1900s in the processing of bellies and shoulders was known locally as the Offal Yard. The meaning was not ‘waste’ or ‘superfluous’, but simply ‘not of the first quality’, for in every early instance the offal was being put to good use. That was still the case in Henry Best’s advice on bee-keeping in 1642: he recommended that after the honey had been extracted, water should be put into a tub - for every hive 3 gallons of water, for every hive’s offell will serve to sweeten 3 gallons, Elmswell. Presumably the ‘offal’ in this case referred to bits of the comb that had broken off as the honey was being extracted. The liquid would then be used to make mead.

dates 1396 1547 1577 1580 1622 1642 1719 1736 1900-1925

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