farm out

Idioms & Phrases

farm out

Assign something to an outsider; subcontract something. For example, The contractor was so busy he had to farm out two jobs to a colleague, or When their mother was hospitalized, the children had to be farmed out to the nearest relatives. This term originally referred to letting or leasing land. Today it usually refers to subcontracting work or the care of a dependent to another. In baseball it means "to assign a player to a lesser (farm) league," as opposed to a big league. [Mid-1600s]

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