From The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48:

Set-off \Set"-off`\, n. [Set + off.]
   1. That which is set off against another thing; an offset.
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            I do not contemplate such a heroine as a set-off to
            the many sins imputed to me as committed against
            woman.                                --D. Jerrold.
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   2. That which is used to improve the appearance of anything;
      a decoration; an ornament.
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   3. (Law) A counterclaim; a cross debt or demand; a distinct
      claim filed or set up by the defendant against the
      plaintiff's demand.
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   Note: Set-off differs from recoupment, as the latter
         generally grows out of the same matter or contract with
         the plaintiff's claim, while the former grows out of
         distinct matter, and does not of itself deny the
         justice of the plaintiff's demand. Offset is sometimes
         improperly used for the legal term set-off. See
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   4. (Arch.) Same as Offset, n., 4.
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   5. (Print.) See Offset, 7.
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   Syn: Set-off, Offset.

   Usage: Offset originally denoted that which branches off or
          projects, as a shoot from a tree, but the term has
          long been used in America in the sense of set-off.
          This use is beginning to obtain in England; though
          Macaulay uses set-off, and so, perhaps, do a majority
          of English writers.
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From The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48:

Offset \Off"set`\, n. [Off + set. Cf. Set-off.]
   In general, that which is set off, from, before, or against,
   something; as: 
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   1. (Bot.) A short prostrate shoot, which takes root and
      produces a tuft of leaves, etc. See Illust. of
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   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.
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   3. A spur from a range of hills or mountains.
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   4. (Arch.) 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
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   5. (Surv.) A short distance measured at right angles from a
      line actually run to some point in an irregular boundary,
      or to some object.
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   6. (Mech.) 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.
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   7. (Print.) 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;
      an unitended transfer of an image from one page to
      another; called also setoff.
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   8. See offset printing.

   Offset staff (Surv.), a rod, usually ten links long, used
      in measuring offsets.
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