What does "put out" mean in the following context?

I, myself, who find sundown something of a surprise every evening, have been pursued by foreign journalists asking what the pandemic will mean for the American presidential election, populism, the prospects of socialism, race relations, economic growth, higher education, New York City politics and more. And they seem awfully put out when I say I have no idea.

  • 2
    From Collins COBUILD: "If you feel put out, you feel rather annoyed or upset. " – Kate Bunting May 23 '20 at 10:56

Merriam-Webster's definition #5B for the phrase 'put out' fits this context:

Annoy, irritate

The journalists are annoyed/irritated by the writer's inability to answer their questions.

  • 1
    Hello, 770. This is too basic for ELU, being a question most pupils in the first two years of secondary school would be expected to know the answer to. Also, as Kate indicates, basic research would provide the answer. – Edwin Ashworth May 23 '20 at 11:37
  • A lot of folks here will be put out that you didn't do proper research. – Hot Licks May 23 '20 at 12:00

Put out (adjective) with the sense of (especially of a person) 'disgruntled, annoyed, unhappy,fed up’ has been in use since at least 1796:

F. Burney Camilla V. x. xiv. 542 I can't say but what I'm a little put out, that Indiana should forget poor Mrs. Margland. (OED)

It seems reasonable to suppose that this sense may have had it's origin in the phrase

'Put your nose out of joint'

used by Barnaby Rich in His Farewell to Militarie Profession (1581) with the sense of 'hurt your feelings' or 'upset your plans'.

See also Origin of "nose out of joint"

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.