What does the idiom "out in the open" mean?

Idioms are generally defined as groups of words that form a meaningful whole when they come together, even though the words in them do not make sense on their own. They have produced many idioms according to their own cultural characteristics in communities using the English language. What does out in the open mean? In what situations is out in the open used?

Meaning of "out in the open"


To be ‘out in the open’ is to make something known or visible, usually in a public place or setting. It is used to describe the kind of attitude or behaviour that is direct, honest and transparent. It can also refer to a situation that is difficult or embarrassing and is thus discussed openly.


The phrase ‘out in the open’ has been used since the 16th century, with the first known usage appearing in a 1557 Middle English translation of the Bible. The phrase ‘out in the open’ is derived from the Old English phrase ‘eope open,’ which originally meant ‘widely spread or exposed to the elements’. The phrase is often used in a figurative sense, to denote something being declared openly and transparently.


The phrase ‘out in the open’ is usually used to describe a situation which is discussed or revealed in a public manner. It is usually used to emphasize the openness and honesty of the discussion, or to show that the situation is exposed and cannot be hidden. In modern usage, the phrase is often used in the context of political or social scandal, to describe when the full details of a story are made public.

Example Sentences

  • The politician chose to put the controversy ‘out in the open’, in an effort to be transparent and honest with the public.
  • The couple decided to talk about their problems ‘out in the open’, in the hope that it would help them resolve them.
  • The couple finally decided to put the scandal ‘out in the open’, and the media had a field day with the news.

The meanings of the words in the "out in the open" idiom

The Surprising Origins of Everyday English Idioms

Many English idioms have surprisingly dark origins, often rooted in violence, death, and superstition. For instance, the phrase "raining cats and dogs" is said to have originated in the 17th century, when heavy rain would often cause dead animals to wash up on the streets. Meanwhile, the idiom "rule of thumb" is believed to have originated from a law that allowed men to beat their wives with a stick no thicker than their thumb.


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