Recently a co-worker and I debated the proper use of "out to lunch". The argument stemmed from conversation over the appropriate preposition to use, and became particularly heated when we tried to determine if lunch was a verb, or was short for "luncheon" — or some other, older word. (Yes, he referenced "lunchentach".) Convention aside, what is the proper usage of the phrase?
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"Out for lunch" makes me think the person will be bringing the food back with them.
I have heard the other variations and they seem to mean various things:
I have also heard the phrase used to imply someone is "out to lunch" or not entirely there mentally. Context seems to be the only clue that this meaning was intended:
When talking to someone while eating, I find this more common:
"Out to lunch" simply means going out (of your place of residence) for the purpose of having lunch. Here, the word lunch is used in the verb form as opposed to its noun form which indeed is a shortened version of luncheon.
Here (central Scotland) we would never use "Out To Lunch" when talking about lunch - it tends to be used to mean that you are mental:-)
You could say going "Out for Lunch" and that would be fine.