"out of pocket"

Posted by ESC on March 09, 2002

In Reply to: "Out of pocket" posted by James Briggs on March 09, 2002

: : : : : Our family has an email list and recently one person said: "sorry I have been lax in writing, but I have been 'out of pocket' the past couple weeks.

: : : : : I understood what she meant - not functioning up to par - but I another family member who continually scrutinizes everything said it meant 'spending money out of our pocket' as in 'out of pocket expenses'.

: : : : : I never for a minute thought that.

: : : : : Comments welcome.

: : : : I understand "out of pocket" the same way your other family member does: as describing casual outlays of cash or small expenditures, small in relation to bigger budget items. But, then, I too continually scrutinize everything.

: : : It has another meaning. Out of pocket means something like out of communication, out of range. If I find something more specific, I'll post it.

: : Found it.

: : OUT OF POCKET - "Used in the Southwest for 'absent, unavailable.' 'I'll be out of pocket awhile, but I'll call you as soon as I can." From the "Happy Trails: Western Words and Sayings" chapter in the Facts on File Dictionary of American Regionalisms: Local Expressions from Coast to Coast by Robert Hendrickson (Facts on File, New York, 2000).

: In the UK 'out of pocket' means that you have paid out for something and not had an equivalent return, such as paying for business expenses and your boss not giving back to you what you actually paid out.

It means that in the U.S too. "Cash money" that one has had to pay. For example, insurance might pay 80 percent for an operation and the patient would have to pay the remaining 20 percent "out of pocket." But "out of pocket" also has a second meaning -- being out of touch, absent.