out of pocket


Definition of out of pocket 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 : from cash on hand : with one's own money rather than with money from another source (such as an insurance company) With so many people willing to pay out of pocket most insurance companies do not pay for the procedure, because they regard it as "cosmetic" …— Kenneth Chang

2 chiefly British

a : in the position of having lost money On Oct. 7, the government suddenly pulled the plug on Railtrack PLC, the privatized owner of Britain's railway infrastructure, leaving the company's 250,000 shareholders out of pocket.— Kerry Capell

b : out of funds : without money My wife and I are already consumers of Straus's organic yogurt, butter, cream and ice cream, although I admit when I am feeling out of pocket I opt for a slightly cheaper competitor.— Larry Gallagher


out-of-pock·​et | \ˌau̇t-ə(v)-ˈpä-kət \

Definition of out-of-pocket (Entry 2 of 2)

: requiring an outlay of cash out-of-pocket expenses

Examples of out of pocket in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb

In exchange, Amazon will give CPGs data about how well their product is performing within its category on Amazon, as well as some advertising on Amazon’s sites — stuff Amazon doesn’t have to spend out of pocket to offer. Recode Staff, Recode, "Recode Daily: Google spends $1 billion on a 52-acre office park in space-constrained Silicon Valley," 27 Nov. 2018 Consumers who pay upfront will pay less out of pocket in total. Cheryl Winokur Munk, WSJ, "What You Need to Know About Hybrid Long-Term-Care Insurance," 20 Nov. 2018 That’s not enough to pay for the typical college education out of pocket. Liz Weston, The Seattle Times, "Liz Weston: How to fund college if you didn’t save enough," 8 Oct. 2018 In effect, the Gold Card costs half as much out of pocket, and has just as much earning power—and then some. Ryan Craggs, Condé Nast Traveler, "The New American Express Gold Card Stacks Up Against the Best Travel Credit Cards," 4 Oct. 2018 At the time of death, your family may owe a small portion out of pocket due to inflation, but generally speaking, the larger costs are covered. Ace Ratcliff, SELF, "6 Things You Should Do Now to Prepare for Your Own Funeral," 30 Aug. 2018 If drugs are not on the formulary, the drug company loses business since the drug will either not be covered by the health insurance plan or the patient will have to pay much more out of pocket to get it. Scott Knoer, STAT, "What does PBM stand for? In Ohio (and elsewhere), it’s programs bilking millions," 29 June 2018 The consumers who will benefit most are those who take prescription drugs regularly and pay a lot for their medicines out of pocket, or before insurance coverage starts. Tom Murphy, USA TODAY, "Prescription drug costs: Insurers look to pass price breaks straight to the consumer," 14 Apr. 2018 Bonnie Castillo, Executive Director of California Nurses Association California’s primary offered real hope for millions of our neighbors who face crushing medical debt or who forgo needed care due to skyrocketing out of pocket health costs. Amy Chance, sacbee, "California Influencers: What did we learn from the June primary election, and why?," 11 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'out of pocket.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of out of pocket


1679, in the meaning defined at sense 2a


1885, in the meaning defined above

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Last Updated

10 Dec 2018

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Time Traveler for out of pocket

The first known use of out of pocket was in 1679

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English Language Learners Definition of out-of-pocket

: paid for with your own money rather than with money from another source (such as the company you work for or an insurance company)



Legal Definition of out-of-pocket 

: requiring an outlay of cash out-of-pocket expenses

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