block out: Idiom Meaning and Origin

What does ‘block out’ mean?

The idiom *block out* means to intentionally ignore or forget about something, usually a negative or unpleasant experience or memory.

Idiom Explorer

Unveiling Subconscious Barriers

The idioms "shut one's eyes and think of England" and "blank out" are closely related to the idiom "block out."

I tried to block out my negative thoughts.

The phrase "shut one's eyes and think of England" is often used in a humorous or sarcastic way to suggest that someone should ignore or block out unpleasant or uncomfortable situations. It originated in the early 1900s and is attributed to advice given to newly married wives who were expected to have sex with their husbands despite any personal reservations or lack of desire. In this context, "shut one's eyes and think of England" was a way of encouraging women to mentally detach themselves from the act by focusing on a patriotic duty instead. While the phrase is not commonly used today, it illustrates the idea of deliberately blocking out one's true feelings or emotions in order to endure a difficult or unpleasant experience.

On the other hand, the idiom "blank out" refers to the act of forgetting or being unable to recall something, usually temporarily. It is often used in situations where one's mind goes blank or becomes void of any thoughts or memory. While "blank out" may not have an obvious connection to the idiom "block out" at first glance, they share a common thread of mental or cognitive disengagement. When someone blanks out, they are effectively blocking out their thoughts or memories, creating a mental barrier that prevents access to the information they are trying to recall. In this sense, the two idioms are interconnected in their association with mental processes and the deliberate or involuntary exclusion of certain thoughts, emotions, or memories.

The idiom "block out" encompasses the act of purposely avoiding or intentionally ignoring something, whether it be mental or emotional in nature, or physical and tangible. It can be seen as a form of self-defense or self-preservation, as well as a means of establishing boundaries or limitations. The idioms "shut one's eyes and think of England" and "blank out" relate to "block out" through their association with mental processes such as blocking out emotions or thoughts, or deliberately excluding or forgetting certain information. Together, these idioms paint a picture of deliberate exclusion, mental barriers, and the complex ways in which we navigate our thoughts, emotions, and experiences.

Example usage

Examples of how the idiom "block out" can be used in a sentence:

  • She tried to block out the noise by putting on headphones.
  • He needed to block out some time in his schedule to work on the project.
  • The athlete was able to block out the distractions and focus on his performance.

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