What are the grammatical role and the meaning of "emerging out" in the following sentence?

The most widely accepted theory, championed by anthropologists in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries envisions theater as emerging out of myth and ritual.

1 Answer 1


emerging is the present participle of emerge. The theater is envisioned as emerging, that is, as "coming out of" {somewhere}.

out of myth and ritual is a prepositional phrase which adds information that indicates the origin of the act of emerging, the "somewhere", just as we would say:

The CEO emerged from his office.

In this theater example, emerge is used figuratively, since "myth and ritual" are not places, in the sense that "his office" is a place. Here it could be paraphrased as developed from or arose from or grew out of. In other words, theater was seen as originating in myth and ritual.

He emerged from the darkness.

The wolves emerged from the forest.

The nurse's head emerged from the doorway. "Next!" she shouted.

The candidate emerged from the pack as the nominee.

Batman emerged out of the gloom and zipped up to the rooftop on a thin metal wire.

Stylistically, some speakers would say that out of is a little clumsy with emerge, as this Ngram attests.

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