lock out

Idioms & Phrases

lock out

  1. Keep out, prevent from entering. For example, Karen was so angry at her brother that she locked him out of the house. [Late 1500s] Shakespeare had it in The Comedy of Errors (4:1): "For locking me out of my doors by day."

  2. Withhold work from employees during a labor dispute, as in The company threatened to lock out the strikers permanently. [Mid-1800s]

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