Prepositional Phrases – Out

–  Prepositional Phrases – Out  –

An Alphabetical list of English Prepositional Phrases using the word “Out”  –  If you do not see the Phrase that you are looking for, please let me know in the comments below and I will be happy to add it for you at my earliest convenience.


(to) Branch Out – As the branches of a tree spread out in many different directions, and those branches also create other branches in order to gather the most amount of sunlight – in business terminology, to Branch Out means to spread the direction and focus of a company out in many different directions in order to obtain a wider market and gain more business overall…  “As an English teacher, I used to teach only traditional courses, following pre-written text books, but after I established my own company, I branched out into many other areas, including exam preparation, international business communications consulting and editing of legal documents and contracts.”

(to) Cheat (someone) Out Of Some Money – This is an idiomatic verb phrase only because of the preposition “out“.  Otherwise this phrase is pretty “straightforward“.  It is one of the many different ways of talking about stealing from someone.  However this is done in a way that the person (who is being cheated) does not realize that he or she is being cheated.  In fact, in most cases (like a dishonest business proposal or investment scheme) the person being cheated often thinks that they will actually be making a good investment, but only find out later that they had been fooled.

(to not be) Cut Out For (something) – This is an idiomatic adjectival phrase which means to not be “right” for something (activity), or that one doesn’t “fit” in a certain position (career).  This phrase probably comes from the time when, if a man wanted a suit, he had to go to the tailor to have one made especially for him.  The tailor would take the measurements and each piece was “cut out” especially for him, so that it would fit perfectly…  So if someone else tried to wear it, most likely it wouldn’t fit.  This phrase, however, reverses that to say that a person is not *cut out for* (does not have the right qualities or skills) to do a certain job or activity.

(to) Figure Out (something) – This is phrasal verb which means:  To find a solution or answer to some problem, situation, or question…  “I need to figure out how to not spend so much of my life writing reports.”

(to) Have (one’s) Work Cut Out For (him/her) – This is an idiomatic prepositional phrasal verb which means that one has a lot of work  that he or she needs to do.  Though many people ALWAYS have a lot of work to do, this phrase is used to describe a situation wherein a person is given some project and the entire project (not just the day-to-day work) is a freakin’ shit-load of work!!!  That’s where the phrase “cut out” comes from…  It’s as if there was a gigantic evil stinking pile of work and someone “cut out” a piece for that person.  So when a person says, “Wow.  You’ve really got your work cut out for you!”  It is basically a nice way of saying…  “It sucks to be you right now.  You’ve got a shit-load of work and I certainly would NOT want to be you.”

(to) Iron Out (something) – Besides being a heavy metal, an iron is a tool which we use to take the wrinkles out of clothes, and as a verb, it is the act of doing such.  So as an idiomatic phrasal verb, it is used to mean:  To do whatever is necessary in a situation to make things better, successful or bring it to a conclusion; to fix a situation; to clarify something…  “We are all ready to make the move to Tenerife, now we are just in the process of ironing out the details.”

(to) Opt Out – This is a phrasal verb which means:  To choose the option not to participate in something.  (“Opt” is a abbreviation of the word “Option”)…  “As a sneaky way of trying to get more subscribers, many website now make you Opt Out of receiving their newsletter, rather than Opt In.”  –  (See also “Opt In“)

(to) Reach Out to (someone) – This is a phrasal verb which means:  To take the time and effort to contact someone – usually when it is understood that it is important or at least very much appreciated…  “I want to thank you for reaching out out to me.  Things have been very stressful lately and it’s nice to know that you care.”

(to) Stand Out – This is an idiomatic phrasal verb which means:  To be very obvious and hard to NOT notice, and is usually meant in a “positive” way…  “My wife is so beautiful and stylish, that even when she is casually dressed, she always stands out in the crowd.”  –  (See also:  “Stick Out” and “Stick Out Like A Sore Thumb”)

(to) Stick Out – This is an idiomatic phrasal verb which means:  To be very obvious and hard to NOT notice, and is usually meant in a “negative” way…  “Americans travelling abroad always seem to stick out in the crowd because no matter what the situation they are always wearing flip-flops and speaking very loudly.”   –  (see also: “Stand Out” and “Stick Out Like A Sore Thumb”)

(to) Stick Out Like A Sore Thumb – This is an idiomatic phrasal verb which, similar to “Stick Out” means:  To be very obvious and hard NOT to notice, but this is a much more extreme version that is usually used as an insult…  “That florescent green shirt, in combination with the brown pants and white shoes, makes him stick out like a sore thumb.”

(to be) stressed Out – This is an adverbial phrase which simply means: to be “Stressed”.  The addition of the preposition “out” is used to imply that one has “had enough” and can not tolerate any more of the stress of whatever situation or situations are causing the stress…  “I am completely stressed out from having to deal with so many people of such low character.”

(something or things will) Work Out – This is a phrase which means that (whatever the thing is) will either work out just fine, or will get better than it currently is.  It is often said when the current situation does not appear to be good, or is very uncertain…  “Well, the organizers certainly didn’t seem to pleased about the turnout for the fundraiser, but we still have donations coming in through the website, so I’m sure that everything will work out in the end.”

(to) Work Out – This is a phrase which means to take some information and find some sort of a solution to a problem or situation…  “I need you to work out who is best suited to take the new manager’s position.”

–  ( Prepositional Phrases – Out )  –

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