bail out

Idioms & Phrases

bail out

  1. Empty water out of a boat, usually by dipping with a bucket or other container. For example, We had to keep bailing out water from this leaky canoe. [Early 1600s]

  2. Rescue someone in an emergency, especially a financial crisis of some kind, as in They were counting on an inheritance to bail them out. [Colloquial; 1900s]

  3. Jump out of an airplane, using a parachute. For example, When the second engine sputtered, the pilot decided to bail out. [c. 1930]

  4. Give up on something, abandon a responsibility, as in The company was not doing well, so John decided to bail out while he could still find another job. [Second half of 1900s]

  5. See make bail.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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