I have recently noted that conversations around me are increasingly full of the expressions: "plan out" and "list out" (just to name a couple using "out"). I cannot stand the sound of these expressions and wonder why they would just simply say "plan" or "list". Please help settle this for me as it just rubs me the wrong way and seems to have proliferated in use and seems accepted. For example: "I will list out the options you have" or "She planned out her whole strategy without any help or outside sources".
You're right that definition-wise the phases do mean the same thing, however they convey different subtleties. Adding "out" after the verbs you mentioned has a tendency to sound all-encompassing, a complete action, and sometimes pompous (in the case of "spell out"). Look at the following sentences:
Jerry planned the trip.
Jerry planned out the trip.
In the first sentence, the idea conveyed is that the trip is planned, Jerry knows where he's going on his trip and probably what hotel he will stay in. The emphasis is on the planning process being completed.
The second sentence gives the idea that Jerry planned out every last detail of the trip down to the minute and not only does he know where he's going, he's know the exact hotel he'll stay at, the exact museum he's visiting, and where he will eat his lunch. The emphasis in on the extent of planning that Jerry has put into his trip.