or psych·out

[ sahyk-out ]

  1. an act or instance of seeking to intimidate, make nervous, mislead, etc., in order to gain an advantage: Trash talk and psych-outs are common along the starting line of a horse race.

  2. an intense, uncontrolled emotional reaction, or something that causes such a reaction: The song is an eight-minute psych-out that exudes passion and never loses its sense of power pop.

  1. involving or making use of intimidation, manipulation, etc., to gain an advantage over someone or get them to do something: He says hypnosis is just a psych-out method to get you to convince yourself that you don't need to smoke.

verb phrase
  1. psych out [sahyk out], /ˌsaɪk ˈaʊt/,

    • to intimidate, make nervous, mislead, etc., in order to gain an advantage over: You can bluff, chat, and try to psych out the other players in online poker just like you can in person.

    • to have or cause to have an intense and uncontrolled emotional reaction; freak out: I overhear too many parents psych out their kids with outdated information about getting a tooth filled.

    • to figure out, especially in a way that involves psychology: I won't say I think like a cat, but I can kind of psych out how a cat would behave in a certain situation.

Origin of psych-out

First recorded in 1955–60; noun use of verb phrase psych out

Words Nearby psych-out Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

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

  1. to intimidate or frighten

  2. (intr, adverb) to lose control psychologically; break down

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

Other Idioms and Phrases with psych-out


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.

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