English signage: 'Off-license'

On a recent trip to England, I noticed that a lot of corner stores have the term ‘Off-license’ displayed as part of their signage.

What does this mean and why do they feel compelled to advertise it?

It shows that they are licenced to sell alcohol for consumption off the premises.

They have the same thing in Virginia at least – a place that sells liquor can have a license to sell on-premises, off premises or both. The signs usually say “ABC ON” “ABC ON/OFF” etc, where “ABC” refers to Alcoholic Beverage Control, the licensing board and regulatory agency.

In Minnesota, the term is “off-sale” but it means the same thing. You don’t see the term “on-sale” much, unless it is a place that does both.

Cultural quirk alert: the term is so ubiquitous in the UK that there is a slang term, “the offie”, that is used by most people.

same term is used in Saskatchewan

Thanks for clearing that up.

Slight nitpick. Of course the signs would have read “Off Licence”

Then again, given the standard of spelling generally seen in England today, maybe not :smiley:

I am afraid you are correct. I subscribe to a UK message board and they are full of these types of mistake. As well as license for licence another common one is program for programme.

Isn’t program/programme two ways of spelling the same word?

Whereas licence/license has two different meanings (one’s a verb and one’s a noun if I’m correct)?

I agree about the licence/license (and if people would only remember that the “c” versus “s” thing works the same way as “advice/advise” and “practice/practise” then they would all manage to spell it), but I reckon “programme/program” is a little bit different as it is fine even i n the U.K. to use “program” when referring to a computer progam. A bit like" disk" for a disk drive, but “disc” for a compact disc.

Fun, isn’t it? :slight_smile:

Programme / program are used differently in the UK. The former when referring to an item on TV or radio, or a printed booklet at the theater or sports venue. The latter to computers.

I work at the Department for Transport in London and recently saw a letter from a pedant (good for him!) complaining bitterly to the Secretary of State about errors in a letter he had received from the Driver & Vehicle Licensing Agency - apparently, it referred to his “driving license”. If the people who deal with them cannot get it right, gawd help us all.

Sounds like the (probably tall) tale Arthur Smith told on Grumpy Old Men, about writing to Ken Livingstone asking why Earl’s Court has an apostrophe but Barons Court does not. The personally-written reply contained misused apostrophes throughout :slight_smile:

If I was the head of the GLC (or GLA) and was being asked to account for names for tube stations that were coined before I was born, I’m not sure I wouldn’t deliberately make various mistakes like that.

Perhaps he got a greengrocer or other small shop-keeper to write it: no one seems to love misusing apostrophes quite as much as they do. :D. Banana’s, onion’s etc.

And one in our town :- “Farm Fresh Egg’s” . This wasn’t just any old grocery shop, but a high-class deli which charges over the odds for all its products.

My favorite was the sign over a small auto repair shop: “Willow Spring’s Garage.”

It was in the town of Willow Springs.