Stan at Sentence first has a post about an informal Irish usage, give out, meaning ‘complain, grumble, moan’ or ‘criticize, scold, reprimand, tell off’:

I think this give out comes from the Irish tabhair amach, same meaning. It’s intransitive, and often followed by to [a person]. People might give out to someone for some character flaw or oversight, or about politics, the weather, or the state of the roads. Or they might just give out in an unspecific or habitual way.

There are plenty of juicy quotes (“Giving out to him the whole time: ‘I’ve hated you for years, you old fecker, so take this'”), and I recommend reading the whole thing. But I’m bringing it here because of this remark at the end: “On Twitter recently, Oliver Farry said ‘people in Kansas and Missouri use “give out” in much the same way as Irish people do’. This was news to me, and I’d be interested to hear more about it.” So would I!


  1. As a lifelong Kansas Citian, I think not.
    Not even among my Ozark ancestors—and my great-grandmother is an inveterate user of you’uns.

  2. rootlesscosmo says

    I remember “giving out the pay” from Behan; I interpreted it to mean, roughly, “haranguing a captive audience,” in that the the speaker could compel attention only by some form of bribery.

  3. Again and again I’ve heard something described as Irish English when the expression in question has been familiar to me in Scottish use. But not this one.

  4. Count me in as an almost-lifelong Kansan who has never heard this usage. I’ve spent most of my time in the northeast corner of the state, though, so it may be that it comes up farther south.

  5. I lived for over 20 years on the Missouri side of Kansas City. Now I live in Lawrence, KS and teach students who come from all over the state. I’ve never heard the expression.

  6. I’ve always known “to give out” as “to fail” although it’s contextual. I wouldn’t say a tool “gives out” until it breaks beyond repair, but an arm or leg or hand or foot “gives out” when it goes from feeling okay to feeling incredibly painful.

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