Children need to play out in the open.

What's the meaning of 'out' here?

Can I omit the 'out' here since there is already 'in the open' which means 'outdoors'.

Or the 'play out' is a phrasal verb here and I can't omit 'out'?

1 Answer 1


You could omit the word 'out', but it is perfectly idiomatic as it is.

You'll find as many dictionaries hold definitions for "out in the open" as they do simply "in the open", although the longer of these two also has a figurative meaning of something being public knowledge.

Just as "in the open" idiomatically means outdoors, "play out" is used to mean playing outside (particularly in British English). It may be case of these two idioms ('play out' and 'in the open') being put together. Whatever the reason, it is common to hear.

Don't be surprised at the tautology of saying "out" (meaning outside) as well as "in the open". English idioms are full of tautologies - 'up in the air', 'first and foremost', 'close proximity', 'each and every time' etc.

  • @AstraIbee Thx. 'out' here means 'outside'?
    – gomadeng
    Commented Feb 21, 2023 at 9:29
  • @BEBYGONES Yes. Don't be surprised at the tautology, we have loads.
    – Astralbee
    Commented Feb 21, 2023 at 11:01

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .