out of pocket

out of pocket


  1. paid out in cash or from one’s own financial resources and sometimes reimbursed: My out-of-pocket travel expenses included taking business clients to dinner.
  2. without funds or assets: an out-of-pocket student who stayed with us.


  1. a shaped piece of fabric attached inside or outside a garment and forming a pouch used especially for carrying small articles.
  2. a bag or pouch.
  3. means; financial resources: a selection of gifts to fit every pocket.
  4. any pouchlike receptacle, compartment, hollow, or cavity.
  5. an envelope, receptacle, etc., usually of heavy paper and open at one end, used for storing or preserving photographs, stamps, phonograph records, etc.: Each album has 12 pockets.
  6. a recess, as in a wall, for receiving a sliding door, sash weights, etc.
  7. any isolated group, area, element, etc., contrasted, as in status or condition, with a surrounding element or group: pockets of resistance; a pocket of poverty in the central city.
  8. Mining.
    1. a small orebody or mass of ore, frequently isolated.
    2. a bin for ore or rock storage.
    3. a raise or small slope fitted with chute gates.
  9. Billiards, Pool. any of the pouches or bags at the corners and sides of the table.
  10. a position in which a competitor in a race is so hemmed in by others that his or her progress is impeded.
  11. Football. the area from which a quarterback throws a pass, usually a short distance behind the line of scrimmage and protected by a wall of blockers.
  12. Bowling. the space between the headpin and the pin next behind to the left or right, taken as the target for a strike.
  13. Baseball. the deepest part of a mitt or glove, roughly in the area around the center of the palm, where most balls are caught.
  14. Nautical. a holder consisting of a strip of sailcloth sewed to a sail, and containing a thin wooden batten that stiffens the leech of the sail.
  15. Anatomy. any saclike cavity in the body: a pus pocket.
  16. stage pocket.
  17. an English unit of weight for hops equivalent to 168 pounds (76.4 kg).


  1. small enough or suitable for carrying in the pocket: a pocket watch.
  2. relatively small; smaller than usual: a pocket war; a pocket country.

verb (used with object)

  1. to put into one’s pocket: to pocket one’s keys.
  2. to take possession of as one’s own, often dishonestly: to pocket public funds.
  3. to submit to or endure without protest or open resentment: to pocket an insult.
  4. to conceal or suppress: to pocket one’s pride.
  5. to enclose or confine in or as if in a pocket: The town was pocketed in a small valley.
  6. Billiards, Pool. to drive (a ball) into a pocket.
  7. pocket-veto.
  8. to hem in (a contestant) so as to impede progress, as in racing.


  1. in one’s pocket, in one’s possession; under one’s influence: He has the audience in his pocket.
  2. line one’s pockets, to profit, especially at the expense of others: While millions were fighting and dying, the profiteers were lining their pockets.
  3. out of pocket,
    1. having suffered a financial loss; poorer: He had made unwise land purchases, and found himself several thousand dollars out of pocket.
    2. lacking money.
    3. Informal.not available; unreachable: I’ll be out of pocket all afternoon.

adjective (out-of-pocket when prenominal)

  1. (postpositive) having lost money, as in a commercial enterprise
  2. without money to spend
  3. (prenominal) (of expenses) unbudgeted and paid for in cash


  1. a small bag or pouch in a garment for carrying small articles, money, etc
  2. any bag or pouch or anything resembling this
    1. a cavity or hollow in the earth, etc, such as one containing gold or other ore
    2. the ore in such a place
  3. a small enclosed or isolated areaa pocket of resistance
  4. billiards snooker any of the six holes with pouches or nets let into the corners and sides of a billiard table
  5. a position in a race in which a competitor is hemmed in
  6. Australian rules football a player in one of two side positions at the ends of the groundback pocket; forward pocket
  7. Southern African a bag or sack of vegetables or fruit
  8. in one’s pocket under one’s control
  9. in pocket having made a profit, as after a transaction
  10. in the pocket rugby (of a fly half) in an attacking position slightly further back from play than normal, making himself available for a drop goal attempt
  11. out of pocket having made a loss, as after a transaction
  12. line one’s pockets to make money, esp by dishonesty when in a position of trust
  13. (modifier) suitable for fitting in a pocket; smalla pocket edition
  14. (modifier) poker slang denoting a pair formed from the two private cards dealt to a player in a game of Texas hold ’empocket queens

verb -ets, -eting or -eted (tr)

  1. to put into one’s pocket
  2. to take surreptitiously or unlawfully; steal
  3. (usually passive) to enclose or confine in or as if in a pocket
  4. to receive (an insult, injury, etc) without retaliating
  5. to conceal or keep back (feelings)he pocketed his pride and accepted help
  6. billiards snooker to drive (a ball) into a pocket
  7. US (esp of the President) to retain (a bill) without acting on it in order to prevent it from becoming lawSee also pocket veto
  8. to hem in (an opponent), as in racing

n.mid-14c., pokete, “bag, pouch, small sack,” from Anglo-French pokete (13c.), diminutive of Old North French poque “bag” (Old French pouche), from a Germanic source akin to Frankish *pokka “bag,” from Proto-Germanic *puk- (see poke (n.)). Meaning “small bag worn on the person, especially one sewn into a garment” is from early 15c. Sense in billiards is from 1754. Mining sense is attested from 1850; military sense of “area held by troops surrounded by the enemy” is from 1918; the general sense of “small area different than its surroundings” (1926) apparently was extended from the military use. Figuratively, “one’s money” (conceived as being kept in a pocket) is from 1717. Pope Pokett (late 15c.) was figurative of the greedy and corrupt Church. v.1580s, “to place in a pocket” (often with implications of dishonesty), from pocket (n.). From the earliest use often figurative. Meaning “to form pockets” is from c.1600. Related: Pocketed; pocketing. adj.1610s, “of or pertaining to or meant for a pocket,” from pocket (n.). Pocket-knife is first recorded 1727; pocket-money is attested from 1630s. Often merely implying a small-sized version of something, e.g. of warships, from 1930, and cf. Pocket Venus “beautiful, small woman,” attested from 1808. Pocket veto attested from 1842, American English. The “pocket veto” can operate only in the case of bills sent to the President within ten days of Congressional adjournment. If he retain such a bill (figuratively, in his pocket) neither giving it his sanction by signing it, nor withholding his sanction in returning it to Congress, the bill is defeated. The President is not bound to give reasons for defeating a bill by a pocket veto which he has not had at least ten days to consider. In a regular veto he is bound to give such reasons. [James Albert Woodburn, “The American Republic and its Government,” Putnam’s, 1903] n.

  1. In anatomy, a cul-de-sac or pouchlike cavity.
  2. A diseased space between the inflamed gum and the surface of a tooth.
  3. A collection of pus in a nearly closed sac.


  1. To enclose within a confined space.
  2. To approach the surface at a localized spot, as with the thinned-out wall of an abscess which is about to rupture.

1Lacking money; also, having suffered a financial loss, as in We can’t go; I’m out of pocket right now. William Congreve had it in The Old Bachelor (1693): “But egad, I’m a little out of pocket at present.” [Late 1600s] 2Referring to actual money spent, as in I had to pay the hotel bill out of pocket, but I know I’ll be reimbursed. This expression sometimes occurs as a hyphenated adjective mainly in the phrase out-of-pocket expenses, as in My out-of-pocket expenses for business travel amounted to more than a thousand dollars. [Late 1800s] In addition to the idioms beginning with pocket

  • pocket money
  • pocket veto
  • also see:

  • deep pockets
  • in one’s pocket
  • in pocket
  • line one’s pockets
  • money burns a hole in one’s pocket
  • out of pocket
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