What is the meaning of the phrasal verb "break out" in the phrase below:

My husband, notoriously bad for forgetting to add things to the calendar because it was too much of a hassle to break out his phone and open the app (or more likely he tried to, but twitter was open and, well, the rest is history), now he can just say, “Hey Google, add soccer game to the calendar for tomorrow night at 6.” Life changer, my friends, life changer.

Source: http://mosaicbookkeeping.com/2018/09/09/productivity-hacks-from-a-busy-mompreneur/


I could see why this might be a difficult phrase to find in the dictionary. (I had to check a few dictionaries before I could find a definition that matched this context.)

I did manage to scrounge this one on Wordnik:

breakout (verb transitive) (idiomatic) to bring out, use, or present

So, the original sentence could be rephrased as:

My husband, notoriously bad for forgetting to add things to the calendar because it was too much of a hassle to take his phone out of his pocket and open the app.

The Free Dictionary has a similar definition:

breakout take from stowage in preparation for use

So, “stowage” would be where the phone is normally kept, which in this case would be the husband’s pocket.

Another way this could have been worded is by using the phrasal verb whip out (although that implies the movement is sudden, which may not be the case here):

whip out (verb transitive) to pull something out with a sudden jerk


Literally "break something open and take out". For example you might store your gun in a box that is nailled shut. If you need it you have to "break out your gun". It might also be used to mean "take out something that is securely stored", even if you don't actually need to break something to get them

The rebels are attacking. Let's break out the guns. They are locked in a cabinet in the basement.

Here it is being used for hyperbole. The author is ironically suggesting that it seems to be a big difficulty for her husband to take out his phone. He acted as if if it (or if the calendar app) was stored in a sealed box and never used it.

  • Thank you for helping me with this one, specially for pointing out the irony in the phrase. – Itamar Jul 7 '19 at 15:51

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