A trade-off is a scenario in which a person gives up one thing for another thing of equal or lesser value. A trade-off is often the result of a compromise. A person might give up a vacation to Hawaii as a trade-off for staying with family for the holidays.
A trade-off is also a balance between two factors. A person might accept a shoe with a more modest style as a trade-off for quality materials and comfort. Politicians often compromise or trade-off items in bills to get desired features included. The term "trade-off" originated in the 1960s as a simple noun combination of the verb phrase "trade off."