Definition of make someone/something out in US English:

make someone/something out

phrasal verb

  • 1Manage with some difficulty to see or hear something.

    ‘in the dim light it was difficult to make out the illustration’
    • ‘I squint through the glare of the floodlights and struggle to make her out in the window.’
    • ‘Even at 200 feet, it was extremely hard to make them out.’
    • ‘His voice became faint to her, and her vision blurry, but as she could no longer make him out or hear his voice she couldn't tell what he said.’
    • ‘Out comes the first yellow card of the afternoon from referee Codjia, although it's hard to make the card out against his rather bright get-up.’
    • ‘The blurriness in his eyes made it difficult to read but eventually he managed to make it out.’
    • ‘My guess is that this object was at a very high altitude, because even using a zoom lens it was hard to make the shape out.’
    • ‘I didn't know what I was saying, because I couldn't hear it or make it out, but I saw Jason walk up again, and again he was crying.’
    • ‘He squinted at it, trying hard to make it out in the dark.’
    • ‘It was difficult to make them out though as their faces seemed to shine so brightly.’
    • ‘Downstairs, in the gloom, you can just make out the figures of two large men.’
    see, discern, distinguish, perceive, pick out, detect, notice, observe, recognize, catch sight of, glimpse, discover
    understand, comprehend, follow, grasp, fathom, work out, figure out, make sense of, interpret, decipher, make head or tail of, get, get the drift of, catch
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    1. 1.1 Understand the character or motivation of.
      ‘I can't make her out—she's so inconsistent’
      • ‘He clearly feels protective of her, but she can't make him out: is he a fantastic copper or just a complete nutter?’
      • ‘It's difficult to make Jason out because he was fine in Australia's first round match at the beginning of the week.’
      demonstrate, show to be true, establish, substantiate, prove, verify, validate, authenticate, corroborate
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  • 2with infinitive or clause Assert; represent.

    ‘I'm not as bad as I'm made out to be’
    • ‘Oddly enough, however, finding and being admitted into the right school does not have to be as difficult as many people make it out to be.’
    • ‘While things are not perfect, they are not quite as black and white as many are making out.’
    • ‘I don't think the set-piece is as bad as some people seem to be making out.’
    • ‘It is not as difficult as you first make it out to be.’
    • ‘Going after a man, explains Baisden, isn't as hard as people make it out to be.’
    • ‘In our very hearing you make him out to be a traitor!’
    • ‘Flanagan writes with verve and vim, but she's not as single-minded as her critics make her out to be.’
    • ‘We are bright, intelligent people, not simply the stiletto-wearing bimbos that you make us out to be.’
    • ‘It's pretty funny, because the more they make us out to be freaks, the more I learn they're pretty much like us.’
    • ‘Shields insists things were never as bad as people make out.’
    • ‘Knowing now some of the unspeakable horrors that other children went through it is difficult to make him out as anything other than firm but fair.’
    1. 2.1 Try to give a specified impression; pretend.
      ‘he made out he was leaving’
      • ‘It would be fairly ridiculous to go around making out that writing poems was what I was doing with my life all the time.’
      • ‘We had half a page in the local paper, who made out they had discovered the whole story.’
      • ‘This is the sound of someone losing the plot - making out that they're okay when they're not.’
      • ‘He just slowly edges up to me, making out like he is just snuggling up.’
      • ‘I made out I was a big time player, willing to provide some funding in return for a cut of the action.’
      • ‘When I challenge him to stop getting sarky, he acts all hurt and makes out he never even realised he was doing what he was doing, but I'm not so sure about that.’
      • ‘He regularly humiliates dinner-party guests and makes out that his cellphone is on the blink to end dull conversations.’
      • ‘Michael made out he didn't hear him.’
      • ‘Anyway, at the end of the discussion Robbie was making out that they had settled everything.’
      • ‘He makes out that he's sick, so Dan immediately decides to can the trip (much to his fiancée's chagrin).’
      feign, pretend, give the impression, make a pretence of, make a show of, affect, feint, make out
      allege, claim, assert, declare, maintain, affirm, aver, suggest, imply, hint, insinuate, indicate, intimate, impute, make as if, make as though, pretend
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  • 3Draw up or write out a list or document, especially an official one.

    ‘send a check made out to Trinity College’
    ‘advice about making out a will’
    • ‘The date span of the cheques overlaps the latter period of the invoices and they are made out to the corporate defendant.’
    • ‘According to National Health Insurance Bureau records from 2000, 3 million prescriptions were made out to 50,000 patients over the course of a year.’
    • ‘When she made out her application, she received offers from universities including Lancaster, but she refused because she was set on going to Oxford.’
    • ‘It is understood that three bank drafts were made out to ‘bearer’ for £25,000 each.’
    • ‘The bill is sent to the bank, and a copy to us, and we never have to make out a check or deal with a creditor.’
    • ‘He expects the tax office will refuse to accept the cheque, because of who it is made out to, and says his campaign will carry on.’
    • ‘The net result is that every year a cheque is made out to the Leukaemia Unit at St James' Hospital.’
    • ‘It's claimed that he's altered checks made out to his charitable organisation.’
    • ‘The contract of carriage shall be confirmed by the making out of a consignment note.’
    • ‘It looks like Charlotte made the list out for her.’
    formulate, frame, draw up, devise, make out, prepare, compile, compose, put together
    write out, fill out, fill in, complete, draw up, draft, inscribe
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