What does the idiom "out of print" 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 of print mean? In what situations is out of print used?

Meaning of "out of print"


The idiom 'out of print' is used to refer to a publication which has been discontinued, is no longer available to purchase, and has usually gone out of circulation. In other words, it is a book, magazine, pamphlet, etc. that is no longer printed or published, and thus can no longer be obtained in stores or other regular outlets. In most cases, the publication will no longer be available from its original publisher, but may be available from other sources such as used bookstores or online retailers.


The phrase “out of print” was first used in the 1950s to refer to books that had been taken off the market and were no longer available from their original publisher. At the time, this was largely due to the development of new printing technologies and the increasing demand for titles that could not be met by smaller publishers. The phrase was quickly adapted to refer to other types of publications, including magazines and journals, which were also increasingly being taken off the market as demand for them shifted.


The term “out of print” is most commonly used in the context of books, magazines, and other print publications. It is often used to describe books or other publications that are no longer available through traditional bookstores or other regular outlets. In certain cases, it is also used to refer to books and other publications that are no longer in production, but may still be available from other sources such as used bookstores or online retailers. In addition, the term is sometimes used in the context of other media, such as movies and music, to refer to titles that have been discontinued and are no longer available in their original form.

Example Sentences

  • I was hunting for a copy of the book but it’s out of print so I couldn’t find it anywhere.
  • I hate it when a movie I love goes out of print and I can’t watch it anymore!
  • I was looking for that issue of the magazine but unfortunately it’s out of print.

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

Beyond the Literal: Figurative Language in Idioms

Idioms often use figurative language to convey a message that is not meant to be taken literally. For instance, the idiom "bite the bullet" means to endure a painful or difficult situation without complaint, while "hold your horses" means to be patient and wait. Other idioms, like "kick the bucket" or "pop your clogs," use euphemisms to talk about death.


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