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psych1

or psyche

[sahyk]
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verb (used with object) Informal.
  1. to intimidate or frighten psychologically, or make nervous (often followed by out): to psych out the competition.
  2. to prepare psychologically to be in the right frame of mind or to give one's best (often followed by up): to psych oneself up for an interview.
  3. to figure out psychologically; decipher (often followed by out): to psych out a problem.
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Origin of psych1

1915–20 in earlier sense “to subject to psychoanalysis”; originally a shortening of psychoanalyze; in later use (especially indefs 1, 2) perhaps independent use of psych-

psych-out

[sahyk-out]
noun Informal.
  1. an act or instance of psyching out.
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Origin of psych-out

First recorded in 1960–65; noun use of verb phrase psych out
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

British Dictionary definitions for psych out

psych out

verb (mainly tr, adverb) informal
  1. to guess correctly the intentions of (another); outguess
  2. to analyse or solve (a problem, etc) psychologically
  3. to intimidate or frighten
  4. (intr, adverb) to lose control psychologically; break down
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psych

psyche

verb
  1. (tr) informal to psychoanalyseSee also psych out, psych up
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Word Origin

C20: shortened from psychoanalyse
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for psych out

psych

as a noun, short for psychology in various senses (e.g. as an academic study, in student slang by 1895). As a verb, first attested 1917 as "to subject to psychoanalysis," short for psychoanalyze. From 1934 as "to outsmart" (also psych out); from 1963 as "to unnerve." However to psych (oneself) up is from 1972; to be psyched up is attested from 1968.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with psych out

psych out

1

Analyze or understand something; also, anticipate the intentions of someone, as in It's hard to psych out the opposition's thinking, but we have to try.

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2

Undermine the confidence of, intimidate. For example, The basketball team managed to psych out their opponents' guards. This expression is often used in the passive and can mean “lose one's nerve,” as in After I learned that he had two doctorates in the field, I was completely psyched out. Both slangy usages date from the second half of the 1900s and allude to influencing someone psychologically.

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The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.