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 In the meantime, patients must either pay for them out of pocket or go without. Brian Barnett, STAT, "Who’s choosing Americans’ medications — doctors or insurers? The bane of prior authorization," 1 Jan. 2021 Operators of small holiday lettings were also out of pocket. Charlotte Ryan, Bloomberg.com, "Travel Pain Spreads as Europe Blocks U.K. Flights on Virus Fears," 20 Dec. 2020 This means the client will pay some amount out of pocket before insurance kicks in. Ada Tseng, Los Angeles Times, "How to find a therapist who is right for you," 23 Dec. 2020 But customers will not have to pay more out of pocket in 2021, the commission said in a news release. Hallie Miller, baltimoresun.com, "BGE delivery rates will hold steady next year, may increase in 2022 and 2023," 17 Dec. 2020 But last year, her health insurance confronted her with a choice: switch to the Express Scripts mail-order pharmacy and get it for roughly $50 per month, or pay out of pocket for the more than $600-per-dose medication. NBC news, "Millions of Americans receive drugs by mail. But are they safe?," 9 Dec. 2020 Lower out of pocket costs for care can mean higher premiums. Rich Exner, cleveland, "Medicare open enrollment starts Oct. 15; what you need to know - That’s Rich!," 30 Sep. 2020 In a statement, Express Scripts said that only about six percent of its patients are in plans like Dean’s where patients have to use mail service for maintenance medications or pay out of pocket. NBC news, "Millions of Americans receive drugs by mail. But are they safe?," 9 Dec. 2020 While many assisted living facilities cater to a wealthy clientele, who pay out of pocket, Bronxwood primarily serves low-income seniors. Ava Kofman, ProPublica, "“We Don’t Even Know Who Is Dead or Alive”: Trapped Inside an Assisted Living Facility During the Pandemic," 30 Nov. 2020

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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Time Traveler for out of pocket

Time Traveler

The first known use of out of pocket was in 1679

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Last Updated

12 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Out of pocket.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/out%20of%20pocket. Accessed 23 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for out of pocket


How to pronounce out-of-pocket (audio)

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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