run out of town: Idiom Meaning and Origin

What does ‘run out of town’ mean?

The idiom "run out of town" means forcibly expelling or driving someone away from a place due to dislike or disapproval.

Idiom Explorer

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The idiom "run off" is related to the phrase "run out of town." Both idioms convey the idea of someone being forced to leave a location, but "run off" specifically refers to someone being chased away or driven out. While "run out of town" implies a more collective rejection by a community, "run off" suggests a more immediate, individual act of being driven away. In both cases, the person being forced to leave is not welcome or accepted within the community.

The idiom "drive away" is another related expression. Like "run out of town," it signifies the act of forcing someone to leave a place or community. However, "drive away" implies a more deliberate and forceful action. It suggests that the person is being actively pushed or compelled to go away, often through intimidation or coercion. This idiomatic expression emphasizes the use of external force to make someone leave, rather than the collective rejection and exclusion implied by "run out of town."

Another related idiomatic expression is "run out." While "run out of town" refers to someone being forced to leave a specific location, "run out" has a broader meaning. It can refer to running out of a physical resource, such as running out of money or supplies. However, in the context of this article, "run out" is used metaphorically to mean being forced to leave a situation or position. It signifies a loss or depletion of one's ability to continue or remain in a certain place or role. This idiomatic expression is similar to "run out of town" in that it conveys the idea of being compelled to leave, but it does not necessarily involve a community or a specific location.

The idiom "run out of town" captures the severe consequences of societal nonconformity. When someone's actions, behavior, or beliefs go against the established norms and values of a community, they may face strong opposition and exclusion. This can result in being "run out of town," whether it be through collective decision-making or individual acts of driving away. The idiom carries with it a sense of social disapproval and rejection, leaving the person with no choice but to leave the locality.

Run out of town before they catch us.

In small, tight-knit communities, where social cohesion and conformity are highly valued, the act of running someone out of town may serve several purposes. It can act as a form of punishment, a deterrent against future misconduct, or a means of protecting the community's values and integrity. By removing the individual who deviates from the accepted norms, the community seeks to maintain its social order and cohesion.

This idiom is not limited to literal interpretations of geographical locations. It is also used metaphorically to describe situations where someone is metaphorically driven away or excluded from a group or organization. In these cases, the consequences may not be as severe as being physically forced out of a town, but they can still involve a loss of status, reputation, or influence. The person may find themselves no longer welcome or accepted within the group, leading to their exclusion and, in essence, being "run out."

The idiom "run out of town" carries a sense of finality and permanence. Once someone has been forced to leave a community or group, it can be difficult for them to regain acceptance or reestablish themselves in that particular context. The social bonds that were once present may be severed, and the individual may be left isolated and marginalized.

It is worth noting that the idiom "run out of town" is not universally understood across different languages and cultures. While other languages may have similar expressions to describe the act of forcing someone to leave, the specific connotations and nuances of "run out of town" may not translate directly. The idiom's usage and meaning rely heavily on the social and cultural context in which it is used, and it may not carry the same weight or implications in other linguistic and cultural settings.

The idiom "run out of town" is a commonly used expression in the English language. It reflects the act of forcing someone to leave a place or community due to their unpopular actions, behavior, or beliefs. The phrase conveys a sense of rejection, exclusion, and social disapproval, and it is often associated with small, tight-knit communities where social cohesion and conformity play significant roles. The idiom can also be used metaphorically to describe situations where someone is driven away or excluded from a group or organization, signifying the loss of status, reputation, or influence. While the exact origins of the idiom may be unclear, its enduring usage reflects its relevance in expressing the consequences of societal nonconformity.

Example usage

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

  1. After the scandal, the corrupt politician was run out of town by angry voters.
  2. The unruly gang was notorious for their crimes until the police finally ran them out of town.
  3. When the new shopping mall opened, many small businesses were forced to close and were essentially run out of town.

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