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 this dictation exercise to hear this phrasal verb being used in context – how much can you understand?

Dictation #1

Accent: Ireland

Tony .
Tony the night after himself .
Tony to spend the night his car after accidentally himself .

…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.

Discussion question

Write your answer to this question in the comments section, and I’ll get back to you with some feedback:

  • Have you ever locked yourself out?

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