lock out: meaning and explanation

to lock someone out = to stop someone from entering a house, a room, a car etc by locking the door.

We can specify which place/thing the person cannot enter by adding ‘of something’, e.g. Sarah locked her boyfriend out of the house after their row.

It is common to use this phrasal verb with a reflexive pronoun as the object, e.g. I locked myself out, he locked himself out, we locked ourselves out etc. This is used when the situation is your own fault, such as when you leave your house, shut the door (which locks it) and then remember (too late) that you left your key inside. You just locked yourself out.

In some cases, it might not be anyone’s fault (or perhaps we don’t want to blame anyone). In these situations, the passive form can be used, e.g. I got locked out of my car and had to take the bus to work.

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

Tony .
Tony the night after himself .

About the sentence

…Tony had to spend the night in his car

Notice the useful verb pattern to spend time somewhere, e.g. I spent several years in France during my childhood.

Micro-listening #2

Accent: Scotland

, .
He was rent, and came home find he had been flat.

About the sentence

…and came home one day to find…

The infinitive (to find) can be used in structures like this to talk about what you discover or see when you arrive somewhere or do something.

e.g. I got to university to find out that all lectures that day had been cancelled.

e.g. I turned on my computer to discover that all my files had somehow been erased.

Micro-listening #3

Accent: North America

, .
get your password right, you’ll the system.

About the sentence

…Make sure you get your password right…

Notice the useful collocation to get something right/wrong, e.g. If you get the cake mix wrong, it’s usually best to start again from scratch.

Extra practice

Here are some questions/links to help you learn the new vocabulary:

  • Have you ever locked yourself out?

Photo by Paweł Czerwiński on Unsplash