make out

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English[edit]

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Verb[edit]

make out (third-person singular simple present makes out, present participle making out, simple past and past participle made out)

  1. (transitive) To draw up (a document etc.), to designate (a cheque) to a given recipient, payee. [from 15th c.]
    Cheques may be made out to the Foo Bar Company.
  2. (obsolete, transitive) To send out. [16th-17th c.]
    • 1611, Bible, Authorized Version, Job I:17:
      The Chaldeans made out three bands, and fell upon the camels, and have carried them away, yea, and slain the servants with the edge of the sword; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee.
  3. (transitive) To discern; to manage to see, hear etc. [from 16th c.]
    • August 16 2014, Daniel Taylor, "Swansea upstage Manchester United in Louis van Gaal’s Premier League bow," guardian.co.uk:
      There was a startling lack of creativity and if Van Gaal had listened closely he would have made out the mocking chants from the away end, as the visiting fans embarked on the repertoire of songs that formed the soundtrack to David Moyes’s time in the job.
    • 1898, J. Meade Falkner, Moonfleet Chapter 4:
      Though nothing of the vault except the roof was visible from where I lay, and so I could not see these visitors, yet I heard every word spoken, and soon made out one voice as being Master Ratsey's.
  4. (now chiefly US, regional, intransitive) To manage, get along; to do (well, badly etc.). [from 17th c.]
    Oh, you were on a TV game show? How did you make out?
  5. (transitive, intransitive) To represent; to make (something) appear to be true. [from 17th c.]
    His version of the story makes me out to be the bad guy.
    • 2002, Meg Cabot, All-American Girl, 2003 Harper Trophy paperback edition, ISBN 0064472779, page 134:
      She hadn't invited me to a party at her house since the third grade, and here she was, making out like we'd never stopped being friends.
  6. (Can we verify(+) this sense?) (intransitive) To succeed in seducing; to have sex. [from 20th c.]
  7. (slang, chiefly US, intransitive) To kiss passionately. [from 20th c.]
    We found a secluded spot where we could make out in private.

Usage notes[edit]

  • In all transitive senses, the object may either precede the particle out or follow it, the tendency being for short or lexically light objects to precede the particle ("I can't make that out"), and for long or lexically heavy objects to follow it ("I can't make out what he's saying"). In the special case that the object is a personal pronoun, this tendency becomes almost a rule; even if highly stressed, it is exceedingly unlikely to follow the particle.

Derived terms[edit]

Translations[edit]

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