Origin of "Out of Pocket"

asked 2019-07-24 17:38:23 -0500

smorton517 gravatar image

updated 2019-07-27 13:26:28 -0500

ksteimel gravatar image


After recently speaking with my coworkers about the phrase "Out of Pocket", I have discovered that there seems to be 3 primary definitions of this phrase:

  1. To pay for something with your own money, as in "My insurance won't cover my medical bill and I have to pay out of pocket."

  2. To be unavailable or out of reach as in "I will be out of pocket for the next week, please contact my assistant during this time." (I though this referred to one's phone being out of pocket and therefore being unreachable, but apparently this definition has been in common use before the advent of cell phones.)

  3. To be "off base" or crazy, as in "Sherry was acting really out of pocket at that party last night, I wish someone had asked her to leave." (I've been told this usage originates from the Sacramento area, and is exemplified in the song "Let it Go" by Keyshia Cole Ft. Lil' Kim & Missy Elliott)

As further confirmation, each of these 3 definitions are present in the Urban Dictionary entry for this phrase: https://www.urbandictionary.com/defin...

Could you please speak to the origins of each of these definitions? To me, definition #1 is the only one that makes sense, and definitions #2 and #3 seem like outright misuses of the phrase.

Thank you, and sorry if this comes off as out of pocket! :)

edit retag flag offensive close merge delete