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Wally: I worked every night for a month to come up with a detailed quote for one of our potential customers.

Dilbert: Then those weasels used our quote to get a better price from their regular vendor!

Dilbert: Did you really do all of that work?

Wally: No, but it nets out the same.

What does the phrase nets out mean in this context?

  • Why don't you look up a dictionary? dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/net-out It means almost same amount. – Maulik V May 21 '18 at 6:37
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    @MaulikV, I landed on the same link that's mentioned in the comment. But it seems the meaning was given in a monetary context. – mark42inbound May 21 '18 at 6:42
  • It has the other meaning as well. To meet the required amount is what it says irrespective of monetary matter. – Maulik V May 21 '18 at 6:47
  • @MaulikV, that is very correct. But I was not able to digest the explanation to use the phrase in its general sense. Some more usages of the phrase would be very appreciated! :) – mark42inbound May 21 '18 at 6:52
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Something nets out - meaning has/results in a summary value, including various side-effects - for whatever form of value you're assigning.

Something nets out the same if the outcome is of the same value. It can also net out better or worse.

Your example is from a humorous source, so it's used tongue-in-cheek: "I worked every night for a month" yielding the same result as just coming up with the figure with minimum effort.

Let's take some more standard examples:

"Why are you shopping at the corner store instead of going to Wal-Mart? The prices are much lower!"

"If you count the cost of fuel and the time wasted getting there, the corner store nets out better."

or

If we wait for the bus now, we'll net out about the same time-wise as just walking there on foot, and that's assuming the bus won't be delayed.


And something counter-intuitive:

The device, the user manuals, cables, inner packaging, outer packaging, pallet and securing straps will net out over thirty kilograms, and that pushes us into 'cargo package' territory.

The expression to net out comes directly from net weight:

Actual, computed, or estimated weight of a good without its container and/or packaging. Gross weight less tare weight equals net weight.

...which in this case means something exactly opposite!

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We have a number of verbs that partner with out:

turns out

comes out

nets out

and out refers to the abstract idea of become manifest.

That is how events will unfold.

nets contributes the sense the outcome involves numbers or a combination of factors some of which are "positive" and others "negative". The outcome is the result when the positives are reduced by the negatives.

I charged you a late fee but didn't charge you for bringing the car back with the gas tank nearly empty. I could charge you for the gas and waive the late fee, but it would net out the same.

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