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What is the difference between these two?

out of question

versus

out of the question

Does "out of question" mean "undoubtedly" and "out of the question" mean "impossible"?

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  • 3
    "Out of question" feels unnatural. Could you include the context where you found it?
    – Skrillaka
    Commented Jun 29, 2016 at 0:42
  • I haven't found it anywhere. I just felt I have heard it somewhere. I searched and seen it is the problem of others just like me. @A.McCurran
    – prs
    Commented Jun 29, 2016 at 0:46

5 Answers 5

12

It's been discussed on ELU, here.

Apparently, "out of question" meant

Beyond doubt, undoubtedly

but it is obsolete. This says it is obsolete.

Out of the question is still in common use, in my opinion

out of the question
Not worth considering because of being too difficult or impossible:

Here is some ngram data enter image description here

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    A minor comment: I often don't bother to click links (or hover my mouse over the links), so I'd prefer reading "YourDictionary says it is obsolete" instead of "This says it is obsolete".
    – JiK
    Commented Jun 29, 2016 at 9:47
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    Interestingly, an alternative for "out of question" which I believe is still in widespread usage would be "not in question". Commented Jun 29, 2016 at 12:22
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    "Beyond question" (meaning "beyond doubt") is still somewhat current. Commented Jun 29, 2016 at 12:57
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Out of the question is the term in use today. It means beyond consideration; unthinkable or impossible (Collins dictionary).

Out of question is obsolete, which means no longer used. When it was used, it had two meanings.

The first one was unquestionably or doubtless. See Definition 5 in Universal Dictionary of the English Language. Today, for this meaning we use without question.

As you can see from Definition 6 from the same dictionary, it also meant out of the question or not to be thought of. So it was just a variation of the same phrase with the definite article. (As an aside, this shows how idiomatic the use of the definite article can be.)

The Oxford English Dictionary gives an example of out of question, as a variation of out of the question, as recently as 1940:

Flight tests have shown that more than one glider can be towed by an aeroplane, so that a glider train is not out of question.

(from the magazine Aeronautics).

So, in general, you won't see out of question in use nowadays, but in older uses (that are now obsolete), it could mean either the same thing as out of the question or it could mean unquestionably.

3

Yes, 'out of question' means undoubtedly, but its usage as such is obsolete.

It's also correct that the idiom 'out of the question' that's very common implies impossible.

If you say something is out of the question, it means it's not worth considering because of being too difficult or impossible.

0

The only difference is:

the

a fixed value: out of ( ) question

a variable: out of the question

So we only need to analyze and find out the usage and meaning of "the"

: question vs the question

'the question' means a specific qustion that all the parties, maybe, know what the question is. And 'question' without 'the' means not a specific question but a conceptual question.

In short, 'out of question' is without a question or without questions and 'out of the question' is without the question, which means 'the question(a specific question)' is not needed maybe because it is not worth considering or the question's quality is actually impossible.

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I think it is like this :

out of the question : Not worth considering because of being too difficult or impossible

Example :

Your answer is out of the question.

In other word,

"out of the question" do not relate to the question.

And the other hand :

out of questions : You no longer have any questions at all.

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    No - if you no longer have any questions you are "out of questions" (with an "S").
    – psmears
    Commented Jun 29, 2016 at 9:52

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