Kindly help clarify the phrase

to pull out on you/someone.

I've heard it very often. Examples of usage would be great.


Here is the context: I was talking to Jacky who is my colleague at work. Jacky told me that she'd planned to go on a road trip with friends for the coming weekend. She'd asked Litz to cover her Friday shift, so that she could be worried free. Litz promised to do Jacky a favor. However, Litz called in sick on Friday morning, making Jacky frustrated about coming to work. Jacky called me on my phone and told me about the story. She got mad and said, "Litz can't pull out on me like that."

I hope my explanation is clear to you.

  • 2
    We need more context before this can be answered. As you say you've heard it very often, perhaps you could edit your question to provide some examples of when you heard it. What was the situation when it was uttered?
    – Jim
    Apr 2, 2015 at 4:30
  • 1
    I think it's reasonably answered as I have below. Any meaning I can conceive of would fit the definition I've provided below. Apr 2, 2015 at 5:47
  • It's what known as "doing a Yetton"
    – SaturnsEye
    Apr 2, 2015 at 9:53

1 Answer 1


Short answer

to withdraw from a situation or to quit participating in a project or task, etc., and to thereby cause a negative consequence for someone.

Longer answer

We often use verbs (including phrasal verbs which this could be considered) followed by "on" to add a meaning something like "blamefully causing a negative consequence for someone or something."

For example, "She went crazy on me." Would generally mean that I was depending on her company or assistance with something, so her going crazy caused me some problem or distress.

To pull out means to depart (especially by vehicle, which I assume comes from carriages or coaches being pulled by horses, for example) or to withdraw:

pull out

  1. To leave or depart: The train pulls out at noon.
  2. To withdraw, as from a situation or commitment: After the crash, many Wall Street investors pulled out.

Since the first definition means a vehicle leaving, it would not normally be followed by on unless it meant on time or on a surface: The car pulled out on/onto the dusty road.

We can guess that it's more likely you ask about pull out on with respect to definition 2, because the three words seem to go together and in a way such that the meaning would be less obvious to many English learners.

So, to pull out on someone in this sense likely means to withdraw from a situation or to quit a project or task, etc., and to thereby cause a negative consequence for someone.


She promised to invest $2 million in our company. We spent weeks preparing plans and drafting legal agreements in preparation for that. Then she pulled out on us at the last minute. We were so disappointed.

They were engaged for three years. Then John pulled out on her on the wedding day. He just left town without telling anyone.

He promised to help me move all of my things to my new apartment, but then he called and pulled out on me, saying he was too tired from work.

  • 1
    The term also describes a (notably unreliable) contraceptive technique, but that's pretty clearly not what's being discussed. Apr 2, 2015 at 18:30

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