Do you think there any differences in meaning between the prepositions out of and outside when talking about 'no longer involved in something or not part of something'?

If there are any, please tell me which preposition would you prefer to use?

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These are some sentences that I can't see any difference in their meaning if they go with 'out of' or with 'outside'.

  1. The matter is out of/outside my area of responsibility.
  2. I'm afraid that would be out of/outside my job description.
  3. I got out of/outside the habit of riding my bike to work.
  4. Keep endangered young people out of/outside a life of crime.
  5. You may do as you wish out of/outside working hours.
  • Recently when I corrected a faculty who used "Think outside (the) box." he searched all sources and gave me a piece where 'outside' is used. I still believe, "thinking out of box' is more correct.
    – Ram Pillai
    Mar 28, 2020 at 6:48
  • 1
    Yes. In some contexts, only one of those will be correct and the other will be wrong or not idiomatic. -- Also, you have also split the question wrongly. For example: John is [out] [of the team] is the correct analysis, but John is [out of] the team is incorrect. == Also John is [out] [of the team] is idiomatic in its meaning of John is no longer a member of the team, but John is outside the team is strange and would require a particular context. Please give an example of each phase in a sentence that has some context.
    – Greybeard
    Mar 28, 2020 at 8:46

1 Answer 1


Thank you for adding examples:

Out, is a noun (rare except in specialised use), adjective, adverb, verb, and preposition. It tends to indicate motion or change, e.g. He went out [of the house] = He exited the house. The light went out = the light extinguished.

Outside, is a noun, adjective, adverb, and preposition and tends to indicate place. e.g. He went outside (adv.) = He exited. As an adverb it means “to the outside”.

A: I note that you still seem to be parsing the sentence wrongly.

B: In 1a, and 5a you can say “outside of”

C: In the following, the most literal meaning has been taken.

1 The matter is out of my area of responsibility. = The matter has been removed from my area of responsibility.

1a The matter is outside my area of responsibility. = My area responsibility does not include the matter.

2 I'm afraid that would be out of my job description. = (Not very idiomatic) I'm afraid that would be removed from my job description.

2a I'm afraid that would be outside my job description. = I'm sorry but that is not part of my job description.

3 I got out of the habit of riding my bike to work. = I lost the habit of riding my bike to work.

3a I got outside the habit of riding my bike to work. – Not idiomatic… it is also meaningless.

4 Keep endangered young people out of a life of crime. = Keep endangered young people away from a life of crime.

4a Keep endangered young people outside a life of crime. = (Not very idiomatic) Do not let endangered young people enter into a life of crime.

5 You may do as you wish out of working hours. = (Not very idiomatic)

5a You may do as you wish outside working hours. You may do as you wish when you are not working.

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