What Does the Jury is Out Mean?

The Jury is Out Meaning

Definition: Something has not yet been decided.

Origin of Jury is Out

This expression comes from the legal system, and it has a literal meaning as well.

The literal meaning of jury is a group of citizens (usually 12) who listen to a court case. They must decide together if the person (or people) on trial is innocent or guilty. This decision is called the verdict.

While coming to a decision, these 12 people have a private room in which to confer. In the literal sense, the jury’s still out means that these 12 people are still out discussing their decision. If the jury is out, a decision has not yet been made.

The literal usage has existed since at least the mid-1800s. About 100 years later, people began to use this expression figuratively.

It is especially common in sports, although it can be used in any context in which an individual or group consensus is undecided.

Examples of Jury is Out

the verdict is still out This example shows two college students using the idiom while discussing some new players on their school’s soccer team.

Frank: Hey, Karl! Did you watch the game over the weekend?

Karl: Yeah. The new player, Ramirez, is great! What did you think of the other new player?

Frank: Smith? At times he seemed pretty good, but at other times he was a bit of a mess. The jury’s still out on him.

the verdict is out meaning In this example, two friends are discussing the new class that one of them just enrolled in.

Lily: How is your new class?

Grace: I’m not sure yet. It’s too early to tell.

Lily: The jury’s still out, eh?

More Examples

The excerpt below is about a professional football coach who just started coaching the Giants, New York’s team. Football fans and professionals haven’t yet decided if he will do a good job.

  • The jury is still out on McAdoo and whether he will be a successful head coach in the NFL. It makes sense the Giants might revisit their conversations with Saban if McAdoo’s rookie season somehow implodes. –New York Post

This excerpt is from an article about an effect called social desirability bias. Social desirability bias means that some people will lie if they think their honest opinion is unpopular. The article speculates about why a president performed poorly in the polls, but still has a lot of support in real life.  The author concludes that no one knows for sure yet, but social desirability bias could be the cause.

  • “The jury is still out if this is the case with support for Trump, but it is possible,” he added. –New York Post


The phrase the jury is still out comes from a legal tradition of peers judging the innocence or guilt of a person on trial. It means that people aren’t yet sure of their final opinion or decision.