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 How to pronounce out-of-pocket (audio) \

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

Fairfax now has two full-time psychologists and a team of clinicians on staff, so officers don't have to pay out of pocket for treatment. NBC News, "How this police department is fighting for its officers' mental health after suicides," 10 Sep. 2019 Even the lowest income consumers who pay almost nothing out of pocket for their coverage, face considerable hurdles paying for their share of the actual care. Jayne O'donnell, USA TODAY, "Signs of trouble - and progress - as Obamacare 2019 open enrollment nears," 19 Aug. 2019 What that means is that employees won’t pay for it directly out of pocket, but will use profits from the restaurant to pay Gerdes and Meyer over time. Jess Fleming, Twin Cities, "Minneapolis restaurant Hell’s Kitchen is selling — to its employees," 15 Sep. 2019 In those plans members have to pay a large out of pocket expense before their coverage kicks in. Annie Sciacca, The Mercury News, "California cities, special districts pay much more than market rate for healthcare, study finds," 11 Sep. 2019 There are no opportunities for sponsorship in Brazilian sumo, so athletes pay for everything out of pocket. Jill Langlois, Los Angeles Times, "In Brazil, land of beaches and samba, a sumo wrestling academy thrives," 10 Sep. 2019 On top of the financial strain this puts on the caregivers (most of whom spend around $7,000 per year out of pocket on caregiving expenses), there is also the impact on their emotional and physical health. Riane Eisler, Quartz, "The fight between capitalism and socialism will be won by a totally different “ism”," 29 Aug. 2019 Refuse compensation of any kind for board service, and only seek reimbursement of authorized and documented out of pocket expenses. VENDORS 12. San Diego Union-Tribune, "HOA Homefront: Transparency – Great for windows (HOA boards too)," 29 June 2019 Parents who enroll their children at Life Skills will have to use their insurance or pay out of pocket until then, said vice president Treva Fairman. Dallas News, "Life Skills Autism Academy opening in Plano plans to provide one-on-one therapy," 27 Aug. 2019

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

15 Oct 2019

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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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to be made up of

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