"out of pocket" (= not reachable)

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Sun Jan 20 06:32:07 UTC 2002

At 12:50 PM -0600 1/20/02, Gerald Cohen wrote:
>    Thanx for the responses on "loose as a goose." BTW, I'm curious
>about the source of Patton's quote.
>    Also, today I received a query on the expression "out of pocket"
>as used to mean "really not reachable, really not available"; e.g.
>"The director will be out of pocket for the next two hours." I.e.,
>even by cell phone he can't be reached. FWIW, I had never heard it
>used in this sense before. The person who sent me this query works in
>the financial community in NYC.
>    Would anyone know the original reference of this "out of pocket?"
>Is it figuratively a pants pocket? The football pocket to protect the
>Something else?
I've only ever heard "out of pocket" in the pants pocket sense:  one
is forced to pay for something out of (one's own) pocket absent
reimbursement.  The football sense to my knowledge always involves a
quarterback being "out of THE pocket", never "out of pocket" except
possibly in an attributive use like "an out-of-pocket quarterback can
throw the ball away without getting called for intentional
grounding".  The unreachable-by-cell-phone use is an odd one to me; I
wonder if it results from a nonce re (or mis)interpretation.


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