zone out


zoned out; zoning out; zones out

intransitive verb

US, informal : to become oblivious to one's surroundings especially in order to relax
zone out in front of the TV
US, informal : to become unfocused or inattentive because of tiredness or boredom
Students began to zone out towards the end of the assembly.

Examples of zone out in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Take, for instance, a pair of sleek Bose noise-cancelling headphones or Airpods Pro for working out and zoning out. Sarah Madaus, SELF, 11 July 2023 That is, zoning out allowed employees the chance to replenish their waning resources and to bring greater focus to their later work tasks. Melissa A. Wheeler, Forbes, 15 Feb. 2024 Could voters zone out in moments of boredom instead of recognizing Glazer’s point: Some of history’s most appalling monsters masked their unspeakable cruelty in a facade of domestic torpor. Clayton Davis, Variety, 22 Dec. 2023 Take, for instance, wireless Beats earbuds or Airpods Pro for working out (and zoning out). Jessica Kasparian, SELF, 4 Oct. 2023 But that story is told with a looping, repetitive style and otherworldly visuals that can cause viewers to zone out and drift away. Mark Olsen, Los Angeles Times, 13 Sep. 2023 Take for instance the wireless Beats earbuds or the AirPods Pro for working out (and zoning out). Sarah Madaus, SELF, 11 Sep. 2023 Too often, documentary filmmakers fall back on using animation in a rudimentary way, just to keep the audience from zoning out during some long anecdote or info dump. Noel Murray, Los Angeles Times, 18 Aug. 2023 Read the full Sagittarius Daily Horoscope Capricorn (December 21 - January 19) Give yourself plenty of space to zone out today. USA TODAY, 29 July 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'zone out.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


of uncertain origin

Note: Attested slightly earlier is zoned "intoxicated." Zone out is perhaps in part by analogy with zone in, in part after space out, given the relative semantic proximity of space and zone. Note also that zoned is phonetically similar to zonked.

First Known Use

1970, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of zone out was in 1970

Dictionary Entries Near zone out

Cite this Entry

“Zone out.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 15 Apr. 2024.

More from Merriam-Webster on zone out

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