What is the meaning of "lucked out?"

Why is it that when someone wants to say they got lucky they use the expression “lucked out” ? Shouldn’t they use a more appropriate expression such as “lucked in” ? I mean lucked out sounds as if they are out of luck. So why is it that people use this expression to illustrate their luck?

Perhaps exploring all the possible meanings for the word out would be helpful.


A quick look netted this:

To the fullest extent or degree: all decked out for the dance.

In this sense, luck out would be the same as lucky to the fullest degree, which seems close enough for me.

Words and expressions mean whatever people use them to mean. Logical or not.

In Australia, people kept saying the property market had “gone off” in certain areas.

They meant “gone off” as in “exploded” or something (eg boomed) but the expression “gone off” could also mean the reverse - something negative.

One other possibility was that it was a contraction of ‘got out through luck.’ For instance:

“I thought I was going to get stuck with jury duty for months and months, but one of the lawyers didn’t want young professionals, so I guess I lucked out.” (totally made-up example.) :slight_smile:

I admit that I’ve heard ‘lucked out’ used in situations that apply more properly to ‘getting in’ (to a selective group, to a valuable opportunity) but I would tend to think of ‘lucking in’ for those situations and ‘lucking out’ of unpleasant responsibilities and punishment.

Your vocab may vary.

Anyone want to compile two lists? One in which idioms and figures of speech have a logical basis and one in which they do not? Any guesses on the relative lengths of the two lists?

I really could care less. :wink:

(Yes, I do consider that idiomatic and/or sarcastic, regardless of what grammar pedants might say…)

Another interesting set of lists would be:
[ul][1] Two word combinations using the word “out”
[2] Two word combinations using the word “in”
[3] Two word combinations using the word “up”
[4] Two word combinations using the word “down”

Then justify the use of each core word, noting why one of the other core words wasn’t used instead. :stuck_out_tongue:

You mean like why are there so many more people fing up than fing down? :slight_smile:

lucked out = (good) luck ran out

I’m not sure what you mean by this.

All the times I’ve heard or used the phrase “lucked out” it has always meant what the OP said, i.e. “I got lucky”, not “my luck ran out”.

Usages that I’m familiar with in Australia:

  • the market has “taken off” when prices are increasing rapidly
  • the market has “gone off” when there’s a slowdown and properties aren’t selling as quickly as previously.

I looked up “out” on that answers.com dictionary, and it completely omitted the compounding use of “off” to mean sexual gratification. Get off, suck off, etc. Since this is a productive compound in colloquial English, I expect the dictionaries to get with it.

You mean, you expect the dictionaries to get on it? Or you expect them to get down with it? Or you expect them to get to it?

Oh, get off it. :wink:

That’s the way I’ve always heard it used.

In spite of the fact that I was late and in the wrong place, I lucked out and just happened to see my wife waiting in front of a store.

This example fits in with my theory too… the speaker got out of trouble through sheer luck. :slight_smile: