Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Encyclopedia.
Like this video? Subscribe to our free daily email and get a new idiom video every day!
1. To slowly and carefully pronounce something, such as a letter, syllable, or word, typically as a means of learning how to say it or spell it. In this usage, a noun or pronoun can be used between "sound" and "out." She helped her daughter sound out the words in the book. It can be a tricky one to spell because we tend to gloss over the consonants in the middle. Just try sounding it out.
2. To try to ascertain or gauge someone's knowledge or opinion about something. In this usage, a noun or pronoun can be used between "sound" and "out." We'd better sound out the employees before we implement the new policy. Try to sound Janet out about what we should do in Paris.
3. To produce a noise, typically a loud one, such as an alarm. The siren sounded out, signaling an air raid.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
sound someone out
to try to find out what someone thinks (about something). I don't know what Jane thinks about your suggestion, but I'll sound her out. please sound out everyone in your department.
sound something out
to pronounce the letters or syllables of a word as a means of figuring out what the word is. (Usually said to a child.) This word is easy, Bobby. Try to sound it out.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
Seek the views or intentions of, as in We'd better sound out Mom about who's using the station wagon, or Let's sound out the staff before we decide which week we should close for vacation. This expression derives from sound meaning "to measure the depth of water by lowering a line or lead." It was transferred to other kinds of inquiry in the late 1500s, but out was not added for several centuries.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
1. To pronounce something slowly and carefully: The student practiced sounding out the English vowels. I sounded the phrase out until I could say it correctly.
2. To pronounce the letters of some word slowly and in sequence in order to arrive at the pronunciation or meaning of the whole: If you don't know the word, try to sound it out. I tried to sound out the word, but its spelling didn't match its pronunciation.
3. To examine or investigate the opinion or nature of someone or something: The company conducted a survey to sound out public opinion. I tried to sound them out before asking for the favor so that I wouldn't put them in an awkward position.
4. To project a sound: The bell sounded out at midnight.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Phrasal Verbs. Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.