What Does Out of the Question Mean?

Out of the Question Meaning

Definition: There is no possibility of allowing that.

Origin of Out of the Question

This expression comes from the 1700s.

In this idiom, question doesn’t refer to a question in the way we typically think of it today. Rather, it simply refers to the topic of discussion. If something is impossible, it means that there is no point in discussing it any further, since it cannot happen. Therefore, it is out of the question in the sense of it is out of the discussion.

This expression is appropriate in business contexts as well as conversational English. However, because of its strong meaning, it can come across as harsh.

In order to make this gentler, some people might preface it with a softening phrase, such as I’m afraid that is out of the question.

Examples of Out of the Question

out of the question synonym In this example, two parents are talking about their children.

Rodrigo: My son is having a lot of behavior problems in school. His school principal is suggesting that I transfer him to a school that specializes in behavior issues.

Alisha: What did you tell the principal?

Rodrigo: I told her that it was out of the question! My son might be challenging in the classroom right now, but it is nothing that can’t be fixed. However, the principal told me that ultimately it might not be my decision. If the teachers and the principal agree that they can’t help my son, he might get expelled.

Alisha: Did you try to research the school she suggested? I know that you had a strong initial reaction against the idea. However, it might be worth looking into. You never know if the other school is good or bad until you research it a little.

Rodrigo: I guess you’re right. I shouldn’t have said that it was out of the question. I need to consider every possibility that is in my son’s best interest.

out of the question definition In the example below, two siblings are arguing about their parents.

Luis: Our business is going so well now. I’m glad we both agree that we have to move to a larger city in order to take advantage of higher sales and lower prices.

Stephanie: Yes, I don’t see any other option. I’m just not looking forward to telling our parents that we are going to be moving a few hours away.

Luis: Maybe we don’t have to tell them.

Stephanie: Are you suggesting that we lie to them? That is completely out of the question. I’m not comfortable with that at all.

Luis: No, not at all. Maybe they could live with you!

Stephanie: That is also out of the question. I can’t allow that.

More Examples

This excerpt is about an extremely talented swimmer who might be very successful.

  • This week he will have a good shot at making the A final in both the 100 and 200 breast, and though he’s more likely headed for a spot at the World Junior Nationals, it’s not out of the question that he could break through to a spot in the top-level meet. –Denver Post

This excerpt is about an actress who has career ambitions outside of acting.

  • “When I was younger I thought I wanted to be a lawyer or a doctor,” she told LaPalme magazine in a new cover story. “But I could never perform emergency surgery so doctor is out of the question, that was more something I wanted to do when I was a kid. As I got older being a lawyer was something that was very interesting to me. –New York Daily News


The phrase out of the question is another way to say impossible.