25 Pairs of Compound Nouns and Verb Phrases Ending in “Out”

By Mark Nichol

Numerous idioms ending with the word out exist, but only a select group serve (in open form) both as verb phrases and (in hyphenated or closed form) as compound nouns; “tune out,” for example, describes the act of ignoring sensory stimuli, but one does not refer to a tune-out as an instance of such behavior, though one can, for example, either bail out or experience a bailout. These pairs, and their meanings (with occasional divergence of meaning between a verb phrase and the similar-looking compound noun—and sometimes one form applies only to one or some but not all senses of the other), are listed below.

1a. bail out: scoop water out of a leaking boat, parachute from an aircraft, depart from a difficult situation, or provide financial assistance to a person or a company
1b. bailout: financial assistance to a company

2a. black out: lose consciousness
2b. blackout: a loss of consciousness, or a power outage

3a. blow out: extinguish or cause loss of air
3b. blowout: a sudden loss of air from a tire, a large celebration, or a decisive victory in sports

4a. break out: develop a rash or similar condition or suddenly perspire, or escape from a condition (such as spate of bad luck) or a situation (such as confinement)
4b. breakout: an escape, especially from jail, or an adjective referring to a sudden comparative success

5a. burn out: suffer from stress exhaustion
5b. burnout: the condition of being exhausted by stress, or a person suffering this condition, or a period during which a jet or rocket engine stops working because it is deprived of fuel

6a. call out: announce, summon to act, challenge someone to a duel, or announce a labor strike
6b. callout: an instance of calling out, or a detail or excerpt adjacent to an article or image in a print or online publication or a reference to another piece of content

7a. camp out: go on a camping trip
7b. campout: a camping trip

8a. carry out: bring something outside, or accomplish, execute, or continue to conclusion
8b. carryout: food prepared in a restaurant to be delivered to or taken by customers to eat elsewhere, or a restaurant that prepares carryout

9a. cash out: convert noncash assets to cash
9b. cash-out: an act of converting noncash assets to cash

10a. check out: investigate or look at, pay for goods in a store, or leave a place of lodging; also, slang for die or that refers to ceasing to pay attention or make an effort
10b. checkout: the location for paying for goods in a store, or leaving a place of lodging or the deadline for doing so

11a. clean out: dispose of unwanted items, or use up all available funds or steal all items available
11b. cleanout: an act of cleaning out or disposing of unwanted items, or a covered opening for cleaning out an enclosed space

12a. close out: dispose of or sell, or conclude or discontinue, or exclude or preclude
12b. closeout: a sale to clear inventory or before closing a store, or a product being sold at such a sale

13a. cook out: dissipate by cooking (as in alcohol in cooking wine)
13b. cookout: preparation and serving of a meal outdoors

14a. cop out: avoid or neglect
14b. copout: an act of avoidance or neglect

15a. cross out: mark a line or X through a mistake
15b. crossout: an act of marking a mistake

16a. cut out: form a shape from a piece of something by cutting from a larger piece, defraud or deprive, erode or put an end to, disconnect or cause to no longer operate, or leave quickly or take the place of or separate, or used in the phrase “(one) has/have (one’s) work cut out for (one)” to express that someone has a difficult task to complete
16b. cutout: a piece of something cut out from a larger piece

17a. die out: become extinct
17b. die-out: an instance of extinction

18a. drop out: cease enrollment at or participation in something
18b. dropout: on who ceases enrollment at or participation in something

19a. fall out: plunge from an enclosed object or space into the open
19b. fallout: bad effect or result, or radioactive particles from a nuclear explosion that fall through the atmosphere

20a. gross out: disgust, insult, or offend with something unpleasant
20b. gross-out: something disgusting, or an instance of being disgusted

21a. knock out: render unconscious with a blow
21b. knockout: a blow that renders the victim unconscious, or slang for a particularly attractive woman

22a. roll out: introduce or release a product or service, or, as a quarterback, run to either side to complete a play
22b. rollout: an introduction or release of a product or service, or a football play in which the quarterback moves to either side before passing the ball or running with it

23a. shoot out: eject from something
23b. shootout: a gun battle, or a conflict

24a. time out: run out of time
24b. time-out: in sports, a pause in a game called by one of the teams or, when a game is televised, by the network for a commercial; also, a period during which a misbehaving child is isolated

25a. turn out: attend an event, or said in reference to the result of an action
25b. turnout: the number of people who attend an event, or a space for vehicles to pull off to the side of the road, a clearing out or a yield, or a set of equipment or a manner of dress (also, in British English, a labor strike or a striker)

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31 Responses to “25 Pairs of Compound Nouns and Verb Phrases Ending in “Out””

  • Cygnifier

    ? wash out

  • venqax

    Zone out… like, um…wait…what?

  • Dale A. Wood

    Cygnfier is correct with a little more explanation:

    A. Wash out: to wash out the dirt from a grimy shirt.
    B. Washout: The whole plan was a stupid washout.

  • Dale A. Wood

    @Venqax: The compounds “zoneout” and “zone-out” (nouns) are not in wide use, so they do not fit into this category.

    I wish that we could use “fish out”, but “fishout” and “fish-out” do not exist. Example: “The company will attempt to fish out a broken submarine cable from the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean.”
    This happened after the first transatlantic telegraph cable (1859) broke after a short period of operation. A few years later, the two pieces had to be fished out of the water and spliced together.
    That whole processes was delayed by the Civil War in the U.S.

  • Dale A. Wood

    An interesting pair that doesn’t quite fit the rules is
    A. dig out (a verb)
    B. dugout (a noun) – a kind of military fortification, or a waiting place in baseball and softball. What has changed here is the tense of the verb.

  • Dale A. Wood

    How about “opt out”, “opt-out”, and “optout” ?? Verbs, nouns, and adjectives. “What is the optout procedure here? Do we have to bailout?”

  • Dale A. Wood

    A. hang out: “Where do you want to hang out tonight?”
    B. hangout: “The criminals had a hangout in the Sierra Nevada Mountains”.
    C. He was left to hang out in the wind, twist, and die. He was treated very unfairly.
    D. Mother sent me to hang out the laundry on the clothesline to dry.
    E. hang-out: “What’s your hang-out?”, though “What’s your hang-up?” is a lot more common.

  • Dale A. Wood

    A. look out: “Look out for the wild dogs! They eat careless people.”
    B. lookout: “The forest rangers have a lookout tower on the top of the highest hill around here.”

  • Dale A. Wood

    A. makeout: The couple decided to have a nude makeout session at the edge of Lookout Point.
    B. I don’t know what to make out of that. Everyone could see them, and they could have fallen off.

  • Dale A. Wood

    A. take out: They decided to take out food from home for their camping trip.
    B. takeout: On the way home, they decided to buy food at a takeout restaurant. (“Takeout” is a dictionary word, but “take-out” is a possibility.)
    C. take out: The commander-in-chief decided to take out the headquarters of the rebel force in an air-ground assault.
    D. I was always happy to take my grandmother out for lunch or dinner. We always had a fine time.

  • Dale A. Wood

    “make out”, “make-out”, and “makeout” are all possibilities.
    I still don’t know what to make out of the rise of the Third Reich. How did that happen? It still seems to be completely crazy to me. How did Hitler accumulate so much power?

  • Dale A. Wood

    A. walk out: I took my class to walk out by the USGS building near Flagstaff.
    B. walkout: The factory workers held a walkout to protest low wages ang poor working conditions.

  • Dale A. Wood

    A. pull out: The couple decided that to pull out was the best way available to avoid pregnancy.
    B. pullout: General Smith announced a pullout of all American troops from Panama.
    C. pull out: General Patton announced that he would never pull out of Belgium or Luxembourg.

  • Dale A. Wood

    A. work out: We have a serious problem to work out.
    B. workout: She goes for a workout at the gym five days a week.

  • Dale A. Wood

    A. wear out: That machine will wear out before too long.
    B. wearout: In case of the wearout of this critical unit, we always keep a spare one in the storage room. Yes, we have a spare AE-35 unit.
    C. wearout: What is the wearout procedure in the case of the main bearing?

  • Agua Caliente

    Notably absent: freak out. Circa 1960s and still fairly widespread. Peace out, all!

  • Dale A. Wood

    A. Flush out: The plumbers needed to flush out the accumulated clay in the freshwater plumbing of the office building (or the ship).
    B. The city fathers decided that the complete flush-out of all the rats in London was the only way to end the bubonic plague there. (or “flushing-out”).

  • Dale A. Wood

    “Eke out” doesn’t quite fit the form because the noun would be “eking-out”. “The rats were eking out an existence, always pursued by the cats of England.”

  • Dale A. Wood

    A. read out: The judge will now read out the conditions of the convicts probation. He is lucky not to be going to jail.
    B. readout: I got a computer readout of the conditions of the wide area network (WAN).

  • Dale A. Wood

    A. print out: The children were learning to print out their names in the first grade.
    B. printout: The scientists got computer printouts of the results of their experiments.

  • Dale A. Wood

    “tear out” and “tear-out” and “act out”.

    For acting out on Lookout Point, the students were invited to leap out into the valley, but they all decided to opt out in favor of walking out. Thus, they gave their chance to ride out or fly out.

  • Dale A. Wood

    “gave up”

  • Dale A. Wood

    A. clear out: We need to clear out the weeds from the backyard.
    B. clearout or clear-out: Country X is holding a clearout of the rebels in Province Y. This is in direct defiance of the resolutions of the U.N. Security Council, and it might lead to armed intervention by the members of the U.N.

    Of course, in this context, clearout and cleanout are related, and both can be controversial issues. Clearing out a forest can be controversial.

  • Dale A. Wood

    bailout: financial assistance to a company — a country, a state, or a city. A bailout of Greece or Spain is a very controversial ideal.

  • Dale A. Wood

    “chill out”, “chill-out”, and “chillout”
    A. You folks need to chill out with the rotten language.
    B. The rowdy prisoners were sent for a chill-out session of digging potatoes.
    C. I wonder when the final chillout of the Universe will happen.

  • Dale A. Wood

    In the end, the universe might have a blinkout, a crashout, a crunchout, a dieout, a flameout, a freezeout, a winkout, a zipout, or any or the related verbs or adjectives.
    Robert Frost wrote an interesting poem on whether the universe (the world) will end in fire or ice. You might look it up.

  • Dale A. Wood

    A. stink out: I got stunk out of my tent by a skunk while on a campout at Lookout Mountain.
    B. stinkout: There was a big stinkout over corruption in Congress this week. The Department of Justice and the courts are investigating

  • Dale A. Wood

    A. Jack zonked out right in the middle of Mrs. Smith’s test.
    B. Janis had a zonk-out attack on the Ventura Freeway and got arrested.
    C. I had a big zonkout on Interstate 75, pulled over to the shoulder, and took a rest stop.

  • Dale A. Wood

    These pairs all have to do with sources of light or electricity.
    black out; blackout
    brown out; brownout
    burn out; burnout
    blink out; blink-out
    cut out; cutout
    dim out; dim-out
    flame out; flameout
    wink out; wink-out

  • Dale A. Wood

    There are several nouns verbs, and adjectives in these sets:
    {put out, putout, and output}
    Fred Flintstone put out the cat, and she was quite putout about it.
    {pitch out, pitchout} (include the language of baseball)
    {place out, placeout, outplace}

  • Dale A. Wood

    {stand out, standout, outstanding}
    The outstanding farmer was standing out in his field!
    The standout astronaut was standing out on the surface of the Moon.
    (Think of Neil Armstrong. Everyone at NASA knew that he was one of the very best. He had faced emergencies before and had come out alive.)

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