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Michael IELTS Band 9
Professional Teacher
Everyday UK Expressions (8): to be "out of order"

To be “out of order”

“Out of order” has two main meanings.  The more neutral meaning refers to equipment.  It indicates that the equipment is not working normally and is not available for use.

e.g. The photocopier is out of order again and the engineer won’t come until tomorrow to fix it.  I can’t believe it!

"Out of order" is often written on its own on a sign placed on broken equipment.

The other, slang usage is used when someone is acting in an unacceptable way.

e.g. The way he shouted at me was really out of order.  He had no right to speak to me like that!

Can you think of any situations where you could naturally use “out of order”?

Sep 26, 2016 3:21 PM
Comments · 6
Good example, Natalia.
September 27, 2016
I saw the light in the window, but she wasn't answering the door. I understood that the bell must have been out of order and I tapped at the window.
September 27, 2016

FenFen - very good, especially 2.  "out of order" is not really used for personal equipment which is not normally used by others.  You would probably say: "My alarm clock is broken / is not working." 

If you want a more general idiom for all equipment - personal and general - then "out of action"

e.g. My alarm clock has been out of action for a while, and this is why I am late so often.

Suade - good.  Better to have the first sentence in the active form - my nephew messed up my room. But you've understood the meaning well and used it appropriately.

Sudeep, I am sorry but you need to do more work on this one! In your first sentence, a "project" is not equipment. In your second sentence, perhaps "lose our way" would sound better.  It takes a lot of time to master idioms in any language so keep up the good work.

September 26, 2016

Here is my situation: 

My room was totally messed up. My nephews' behaviour was out of order.

Thank you.  

September 26, 2016

The dilly-dally approach in the project made it out of order and put the reputation of the company at stake.

Thank you @Michael for the lesson and by spreading so,you will never let us out of order in learning English:)Is it ok  using in this sentence??

September 26, 2016
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Michael IELTS Band 9
Language Skills
English, French, German, Italian, Spanish
Learning Language
German, Italian