drop out: meaning and explanation

to drop out of something = to leave school, university or a course without finishing your studies.

This phrasal verb can be used as a noun – a dropout is a person who left school/university without completing their course. Note that this word has negative connotations. e.g. If you don’t start studying, you’re going to end up being a dropout just like your brother.

To drop out can also be used more generally to say that someone is no longer participating in something. e.g. After 20 years, he decided to drop out of politics to spend more time with his family.

Have a go at these micro-dictation exercises to hear this expression being used in context – how much can you understand?

Listening exercises

Micro-listening #1

Accent: Ireland

, .
Despite school 15, become a bestselling writer.
Despite out of school 15, he on become a bestselling writer.

About the sentence

…he went on to become

The phrasal verb to go on to do something can be used to describe steps in a sequence or process.

This could be stages in someone’s life or career e.g. After graduating he went on to become a surgeon.

It could also describe stages in a speech or essay e.g. I will begin by explaining the problem, and will then go on to talk about potential solutions.

Micro-listening #2

Accent: England (RP)

, .

have , so now two of us for the job.

Three have dropped , so now there are two of us in the for the job.

About the sentence

…in the running…

You can find an exercise to practise the expression in the running here.

Micro-listening #3

Accent: Northern England

. .

I haven't that I'm planning on uni. They're ballistic.

I haven't my parents that I'm planning on out uni. They're to ballistic.

About the sentence

…I haven’t told my parents

The present perfect (…I haven’t told my parents…) is used because the speaker is talking about an unfinished action/time period. She will tell her parents, but she hasn’t told them yet/so far. How would the meaning change if the past simple were used instead (I didn’t tell my parents that I’m dropping out of uni)?

…they’re going to go ballistic…

ballistic (adjective) = very angry. e.g. I went absolutely ballistic when I saw the state that the kitchen had been left in.