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””

  • 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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