cancel out

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cancel out

1. To negate or offset something. A noun or pronoun can be used between "cancel" and "out" or after "out." My husband and I support different political parties, which means that his vote always cancels out mine.
2. To remove or erase something. A noun or pronoun can be used between "cancel" and "out" or after "out." We just ran out of the crab special, so be sure to cancel it out on the menu.
3. To remove equal factors from a mathematical equation. A noun or pronoun can be used between "cancel" and "out" or after "out." Once you cancel out those two numbers, what total are you left with?
4. slang To kill someone. A noun or pronoun can be used between "cancel" and "out" or after "out." Ray canceled out the informant, just as the boss told him to.
See also: cancel, out

cancel out (of)

To cease being involved in something. In this usage, the phrase is often written as "cancel out of" with the activity or event stated after "of." I had to cancel out of the play when I realized that its rehearsals conflicted with softball practice. We can't cancel out now—everyone is relying on us!
See also: cancel, out

cancel something out

to balance the effects of something. Sending flowers might cancel the bad feelings out. The last payment canceled out the debt.
See also: cancel, out

cancel out (of something)

to withdraw from something. I hate to cancel out of the event at the last minute, but this is an emergency. It's too late to cancel out.
See also: cancel, out

cancel someone out of something

 and cancel someone out 
1. to eliminate someone from something (as from a list of names). We had to cancel them out. We canceled out all the people who did not show up.
2. Sl. to eliminate someone; to kill someone. The drug lord threatened to cancel out his former partner for testifying against him.
See also: cancel, of, out

cancel out

Neutralize the effect of, offset, render void. For example, Anne's kindness to her neighbor could not cancel out her irritability. The verb cancel was used in this way by itself from the late 1400s; out was added in the early 1900s.
See also: cancel, out

cancel out

v.
1. To delete or erase something: I went back to the list and canceled out my name. Realizing the total was incorrect, I canceled it out and recalculated the price.
2. To equalize or make up for something; offset something: Today's decline in the stock's price canceled out yesterday's gain. We made record progress last month, but the delays this month have canceled it out. I never go to the beach because the fun of swimming in the ocean and the difficulty of getting to the beach cancel out.
3. To remove a common factor from both sides of a mathematical equation: After I canceled out the common factors, I could easily solve for the variable. When two factors are equal, you can cancel them out.
4. To withdraw from something, as an activity or obligation: They had dinner reservations with us, but they had to cancel out when they couldn't find a babysitter.
5. Slang To murder someone: The loan shark threatened to cancel me out if I didn't pay him the money. The gangsters vowed to cancel out any rivals.
See also: cancel, out