I saw the following example sentence in a dictionary, and am wondering whether "work out" means "find the answers to" or "prepare." And if it does not mean "find the answers to" here, could it have that meaning in some other context?

I work out my questions in advance, just in case I get brain fade.

  • 1
    I think there is enough ambiguity here for it not to be completely clear if it's the understanding or phrasing of the questions that's being referred to or the answers themselves. Either interpretation seems reasonable to me, barring further context. However, I think it's likely that this is referring to the questions being answered. – Jason Bassford Supports Monica Jul 11 '19 at 15:01

According to Macmillan Dictionary, work out means:

"to solve a problem by doing a calculation"
I was born in 1947: you work out my age.

So yes, the sentence means that the boy solves (finds the answers to) his questions earlier, in case he gets lazy in the future.

  • The dictionary is vague about the object of "work out": Is it "answers/solutions" or "the question" itself? Should I say "work out a solution/an answer" or "work out a question"? – Apollyon Jul 11 '19 at 5:17
  • @Apollyon when you workout a question, you are solving it. So you'd say "work out a question", NOT "work out a solution" (as that would literally mean solving a solution) – Bella Swan Jul 11 '19 at 5:19
  • "work out a solution" is amply attested: books.google.com.tw/… – Apollyon Jul 11 '19 at 5:44
  • See also books.google.com.tw/… – Apollyon Jul 11 '19 at 5:45

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