Meaning Of Idiom ‘Zone Out’
To zone out is to stop paying attention to what is happening around you; to let ones mind wander and fall into a state of revery; to engage in mindless passive activity; to become dissociated from a situation and enter an almost trancelike state. 1Heacock, Paul. Cambridge Dictionary of American Idioms. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2010.,2Ammer, Christine. American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013.
People often say they ‘zoned out’ when they have been caught staring straight ahead for a few minutes as if in a trance, as in daydreaming or musing. The idiom is often used to mean “give the mind a rest” as in “I’m just going to go home, watch TV, and zone out for a while.”
The idiom can also be used in the passive voice, as “zoned out.”
Examples Of Use
“Mary, did you hear anything I just said?” asked John. “Sorry,” said Mary, shaking herself out of her revery, “I zoned out for a while. What did you say?”
“You look very stressed,” said Greg. “Nah, I’m okay, It’s just been a long week,” said Brent. “I can’t wait to get home and just zone out for nice long weekend.”
“The weekly office meetings were long, boring, and completely pointless. Victor wasn’t the only employee to zone out during these compulsory get-togethers.”
“When Ellen starts talking about her cats I just zone out. And Ellen always talks about her cats.”
“You seem zoned out today, Amy,” said Pamela. “Is there anything on your mind?”
This idiom began as a slang expression for narcotic intoxication but was extended to more general dissociated states b the second half of the 1900’s. It is similar to the idiom tune out. 3Ammer, Christine. American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013.
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