From Merriam-Webster

out- in a manner that is greater, better, or more than something else. in a manner that exceeds or surpasses and sometimes overpowers or defeats. e.g outmaneuver>

Does outmaneuver literally mean that manoeuvre the opponents out?

How shall we explain outset (meaning beginning) and outtake then?

  • Your link to Merriam-Webster (note spelling) appears to lead to your own Stack Exchange profile page, for some reason. The fact that a prefix has one meaning in one subset of words does not necessarily mean it has that meaning always. In ‘outtake’, the meaning is obviously one of removal (taking something out of something else), while in ‘outset’ it is one of movement away (from ‘to set out’, meaning to start a journey—the outset is then the start of the journey, thence just ‘start’ in general). Oct 22, 2013 at 23:48
  • 1
    Could use a bit more. Come on, copy & paste isn't outside the rules.
    – Robusto
    Oct 22, 2013 at 23:59

1 Answer 1


You may have noticed that some words have more than one meaning.

I am going to the beach.

I am going to eat.

The same can go for parts of words like prefixes.

outward (towards the outside)

outbid (to bid more than someone else)

Also, you may have noticed that when you put words together, or even standing a lone, they may have non-literal meanings. They may have meanings that just are.

call out (to yell)

put out (to douse a fire -or- to let an animal outside -or- to offer oneself)

See, you hit more than one with the last one.

  • 1
    ‘Call out’ also has at least one other common meaning: that of confronting someone with their own nonsense (“One of these days, somebody’s gonna call you out on all your BS!”). Oct 23, 2013 at 0:27

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