flat out

See also: flat-out



(This etymology is missing or incomplete. Please add to it, or discuss it at the Etymology scriptorium.)


  • IPA(key): /ˌflæt ˈaʊt/
    • (file)
    • (file)
  • (noun) IPA(key): /ˈflæt ˌaʊt/

Alternative formsEdit


flat out (not comparable)

  1. Used other than figuratively or idiomatically: see flat,‎ out.
    • 1967 October 6, Dora Jane Hamblin, Out to Sea and into History, LIFE, page 29
      So many of them took pictures, of themselves and of me, that we ran flat out of black-and-white film the second day out, and there wasn′t a Queen Mary necktie to be had in the shops after we left the port.
  2. Complete, total, downright.
    • 2003, Thomas B. Sawyer, Fiction Writing Demystified[1], page 63:
      Avoid Flat-Out Opposites
      The slob vs. the neatnik. The artist vs. the precision-freak. The freethinker vs. the tightass. Liberal vs. conservative. Jock vs. nerd. David vs. Goliath. Good vs. evil. Beauty and the Beast. Jekyll[sic] and Hyde.
    • 2008, Shira Tarrant, Jackson Katz, Men Speak Out: Views on Gender, Sex, and Power, page 148,
      I put up with a lot from them: sexist and racist jokes, routine descriptions of masculinist sexploitation, flat-out ridicule for my feminist views.
  3. Very busy.
    • 2006, Gideon Kunda, Engineering Culture: Control and Commitment in a High-Tech Corporation[2], page 203:
      I know we are all flat out. That is the way it is. We are flat out, and it becomes a way of life.
  4. (Australia) Lazy, sleeping.
    flat out (like a lizard in the sun) - doing absolutely nothing

Derived termsEdit


flat out (not comparable)

  1. (idiomatic) At top speed.
    After 10 minutes of running flat out, he was out of breath.
    • 1966 November, Steve McQueen, Motorcycles: What I like in a Bike - and why, Popular Science, page 80,
      I was already sliding and too dedicated to change my line and just went flat out completely off the course.
    • 1979 November, Bob Brister, Apache Antelope, Field & Stream, page 128,
      When antelope are running flat out, they resemble very rapidly departing dots; some say they can hit 60 mph.
    • 2007, Chris Viner-Smith, Australia′s Forgotten Frontier: The Unsung Police Who Held Our PNG Front Line[3], page 49:
      I was half way down the strip when I heard a speedboat and ran flat out back to the landing spot.
  2. (idiomatic) Bluntly, no holds barred, totally, outright.
    She thought it was best to tell him she didn't love him flat out.
    He was flat out furious when his car was stolen.
    • 1984, Aloysius Martinich, Communication and Reference[4], page 38:
      Suppose that Professor Turk has won a prestigious grant and wants to impress his hearer with this fact, without saying flat out that he won it.
    • 2001, Nancy Bauer, Simone de Beauvoir, Philosophy, & Feminism[5], page 38:
      If, on the other hand, you simply deny flat out that you can give a metaphysical account of the concept “woman,” on the grounds that women are not essentially like one another in any respect— a position that, it′s important to notice, entails a commitment to your thinking that the idea of giving such an account is at least coherent— then you leave yourself with a problem about how to justify a politics based on the oppression of women.
    • 2003 October, Fool Speed Ahead, Cincinnati Magazine, page 128,
      “You′re gonna die,” he flat-out told Arfons.
    • 2005 March, Seth Masia, Almost Hits, Mostly Misses, Skiing Heritage: Journal of the International Skiing History Association, page 35,
      Sometimes an eagerly promoted product turns out to be a joke — and sometimes it′s just flat out dangerous to life, limb, or commerce.
    • 2006, Tony Rossi, Critique by guest commentator: Dr. Tony Rossi, Stephen Hagan, Australia's Blackest Sporting Moments: The Top 100, page 129,
      The media (in all its forms) has been known to stoop to even lower levels by flat out abusing non-whites such as the Bulletin's little description of Patrick Bowman reported above and then the Referee's self-congratulatory note that Evans (the Balmain nigger ped) had found gainful employment (at which he was 'very handy' rather than competent or skilled) and had ceased to waste everybody's time with his running.
    • 2008 March, Martha Lunken, Lost in a DC-3 Over Georgia, Flying, page 64,
      But I was disappointed and really unhappy with myself because I′d given in to a gut reaction that was flat-out wrong.


flat out (plural flat outs)

  1. (US, dated) A total failure.
  2. A baked portion of flatbread; a baked item that is not meant to rise.
    • 1881, Mary E. Jackson, The Spy of Osawatomie; Or, The Mysterious Companions of Old John Brown, page 296,
      His hands were of the same somber hue as the bare feet of the children who clustered near the table, looking toward it whistfully[sic] until the eldest mustered sufficient courage to ask his mother for "one of 'em yere flat-outs."
  3. (food) A wrap, an item of food consisting of various ingredients wrapped in a tortilla or pancake.
  4. (skiing) A section of piste that is relatively flat, causing or allowing skiers to slow down.
    • 1979 November, Tamsin Venn, The Pleasures of Keystone, Skiing page 107,
      The would-be daredevils are mercifully prevented from going too fast by strategically placed flat-outs.
  5. (motor racing, horse racing) A uncambered corner of racetrack; a racetrack whose corners are uncambered.
    • 1952, Motor, Volume 102, Issue 2654, page 31,
      The circuit is very well endowed with corners of all sorts from hairpins to flat-outs, has a 1,540-yd. straight and measures 5.2 miles, partly on an airfield, partly through a built-up area.


flat out (third-person singular simple present flats out, present participle flatting out, simple past and past participle flatted out)

  1. (intransitive) To fail after a promising beginning; to disappoint expectations.
    • 1894, Mark Twain, Tom Sawyer Abroad, 2015, Tom Sawyer Collection: All Four Books, Enhanced Media, page 413,
      I see myself there warn't no sense in the tale, to chop square off that way before it come to anything, but I warn't going to say so, because I could see Tom was souring up pretty fast over the way it flatted out [] .