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Thread: Proffer/Offer

  1. #1


    Okay, this has been really annoying me. What is the difference between offer and proffer? In most dictionaries I have seen they both mean the same thing. They look almost the same, they sound almost the same, and it appears that they mean the same thing.

    Is there any real significant difference between the two words, or is there no difference or one so subtle it's not even worth noting?

    I would feel better if I finally knew why people ever say "proffer."

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  2. #2
    "Proffer" means "to hold out for acceptance". The problem is that it's also a literary term for "offer", which is were the problems start. They are interchangeable and mean the same thing, but you don't hear people say "proffer" very often. You see it predominantly in writing.
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  3. #3
    It's also a question of context. You can receive an offer but not a proffer.

  4. #4
    Good grief, Sam, how do you do it? Six minutes tick by and you've already responded

    Well, this makes me feel better. Personally I find it a little pretentious when people say "proffer," but then again that's just an opinion.

    Thanks a lot for the clear and quick response.
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  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Baron View Post
    It's also a question of context. You can receive an offer but not a proffer.
    Thanks for another fast answer. That's certainly true. I don't get why people don't just only use offer, since it means the same thing as proffer and more.
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  6. #6
    That's a good question! And I think you've got a good couple of answers...I'll throw my two cents in here, too.

    If you write, Lindy took the envelope from the proffered plate. That means that she lifted the envelope from the plate that someone held out to her. They weren't offering to give her the plate, they were holding out the plate so she could take the envelope that was on it.

    I agree, it's a really narrow shade of meaning and you could probably use 'offered' and in context it would be completely understandable. I tried a little digging back into the etymology of the two words but didn't find sources I liked well enough.

    However! I went to the thesarus out of curiosity and found that while 'proffer' was listed as a synonym for 'offer', 'offer' was not listed as a synonym for 'proffer'. This could mean that 'proffer' has a narrower and more specific connotation than 'offer'.

  7. #7
    Thanks Foxee

    That helps quite a bit--it definitely seems like proffer is a bit more detailed than offer in that it is a more physical reference. I really appreciate each of your responses, so thank you all very much!
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