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Out - Idioms and Expressions

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The following idioms and expressions use the preposition 'out'. Each idiom or expression has a definition and two example sentences to help understanding of these common idiomatic expressions with 'out'.

Blow something out of proportion

Definition: exaggerate the importance of an event to make it seem much more important than it actually is

You don't need to blow your report card out of proportion. You'll do better next time.
The boss is blowing the drop in sales out of proportion.

Break out in tears

Definition: begin crying suddenly, usually in an exaggerated matter

Mary broke out in tears as soon as she heard he was leaving her.
My cousin broke out in tears when she learned that he had cancer.

Break out in a cold sweat

Definition: become suddenly very nervous about something

I broke out in a cold sweat when I heard they were laying off workers.
The news made him break out in a cold sweat.

Come in out of the rain

Definition: come inside from outside, used in a friendly manner when inviting someone into your home

Hurry up and come in out of the rain. I'll make you a nice cup of tea.
She told me to come in out of the rain and warm up.

Come out ahead

Definition: gain an advantage after a series of events

It was a tough year, but we came out ahead in the end.
I think I'll come out ahead if I win this bet.

Come out of the closet

Definition: to state that you are homosexual - modern usage, to admit that you like something that others might find a little unusual - more general usage

Gary came out of the closet last week. His parents took the news well.
OK, I'll come out of the closet and admit that I love opera.

Down and out

Definition: to be in a bad position financially

Ted has been down and out these last few years.
I hope you never have to experience being down and out. It's no fun!

Eat your heart out

Definition: an expression of jealousy at the fortune of someone else

Hey, eat your heart out! I just won $50,000 in the lotto!
He ate his heart out when he heard that Jim got the position.

Feel out of place

Definition: not feel comfortable in a situation

I felt a little out of place in my latest position at work.
Many students feel out of place the first few weeks of class.

Fork money out

Definition: spend money on something

I forked $100 out for those headphones.
Jennifer doesn't want to fork out more than $1,000 for the party.

Get out of the wrong side of the bed

Definition: be in a bad mood for a long time

I must have got out of the wrong side of the bed this morning. Nothing is going well for me today!
Ignore Jane. She got out of the wrong side of the bed this morning.

Go in one ear and out the other

Definition: not pay attention to something that has been instructed

I'm afraid his name went in one ear and out the other. Can you tell me his name again?
Unfortunately, what I say just goes in one ear and out the other.

Let the cat out of the bag

Definition: tell a surprise to someone that one should keep secret

Why did you tell him? You let the cat out of the bag!
Peter let the cat out of the bag a few days early.

Like a fish out of water

Definition: to be out of place

I felt like a fish out of water in my new position.
Some students feel like fish out of water for the first few days.

Make a mountain out of a molehill

Definition: make something seem much more important than it is, exaggerate the importance of something

Don't make a mountain out of a molehill. We'll get by this month and then everything will be OK.
Margret made a mountain out of a molehill. Just ignore her.

Odd man out

Definition: not belong to a situation, feel strange in a situation

I was the odd man out last night with Tim and Anna. I think they wanted to be alone.
Sometimes I feel like the odd man out no matter how hard I try to fit in.

Out and about

Definition: away from the home

Doug is out and about tonight. I don't know when he'll return.
I feel like we need to get out and about.

Out of luck

Definition: unfortunate, unlucky

You're out of luck today.
I'm sorry your out of luck. We don't have any more.

Out of the blue

Definition: suddenly and unexpectedly

Guess who I saw out of the blue? Tim!
The car appeared out of the blue and I barely avoided an accident.

Out of the question

Definition: not possible under any circumstances

I'm afraid that's out of the question.
The teacher said that retaking the test was out of the question.

Out of turn

Definition: not in the correct order

She spoke out of turn.
We'll discuss this grammar point out of turn.

Out on a limb

Definition: taking a chance, risking something

I'll go out on a limb and guess that he loves her.
You don't need to go out on a limb.

Pull out all the stops

Definition: try as hard as one can

I'm going to pull out all the stops to get this job.
The director pulled out all the stops on this latest marketing campaign.

Shape up or ship out

Definition: act correctly or stop doing something - usually used as a threat

Tom you'll have to shape up or ship out.
I told her to shape up or ship out. I'm tired of her excuses.

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