Out of Service: Definition, Meaning, and Origin

Last Updated on
July 6, 2023

The idiom "out of service" refers to something that is not functioning or available for use, usually a machine, appliance, or public facility. Often, it indicates temporary unavailability due to maintenance or repairs.

In short:

"Out of service" signifies that a device or service is temporarily unavailable or not functioning properly.

What Does "Out of Service" Mean?

The term "out of service" is commonly used in English to denote something that is not operational or available for use, especially a machine or public service. It is frequently used to convey that a device, vehicle, or service requires maintenance, repairs, or updates before it can be used again.

Let's delve into its key meanings and applications:

  • "Out of service" generally refers to machinery, equipment, or services that are temporarily unavailable due to maintenance or repair work.
  • People often encounter this term when trying to use public facilities such as elevators, restrooms, or ATMs that are currently unavailable.
  • In professional settings, it's used to notify team members or customers about the status of tools, equipment, or services.

Where Does "Out of Service" Come From?

The term "out of service" originates from the combination of "out of," an English phrase meaning not in a normal or proper state, and "service," which pertains to the act of serving or the work performed by a device or system. Thus, it connotes a state where a device, system, or service is not properly functioning or cannot serve its intended purpose.

Historical Example

"The regulation on the Sixth Avenue Line was changed so as to permit passengers to ride to 53rd Street on cars going out of service."

- New York Transit Commission Annual Report, 1933

10 Examples of "Out of Service" in Sentences

Here are some examples of the term in use:

  • The elevator in my apartment building is out of service until further notice.
  • What can I say? The elevator was out of service again.
  • The copier is out of service because it ran out of toner.
  • Several trains were out of service due to an unexpected mechanical issue.
  • The manager deemed it necessary to put the old coffee machine out of service due to constant malfunctioning.
  • Even though the sign on the door might seem like a joke, the restroom is genuinely out of service.
  • That being said, the community center pool remains out of service for the unforeseeable future.
  • The online banking system will be out of service from midnight to 3 am for system updates.
  • My car is out of service until the mechanic can fix the engine problem.
  • Please bear with us, but our credit card machine is out of service at the moment.

Examples of "Out of Service" in Pop Culture

The term "out of service" is often used in pop culture, generally when an item or service is unavailable or non-functional.

Let's explore some instances:

  • "Temporarily out of service!" is a line from the horror movie Day of the Dead (1985).
  • "And how do you intend to follow Sara, when the only lead you've got is an origami bird with an out-of-service phone number?" is a line from the TV series Prison Break (2005-2017)
  • Out of Service” is an indie rock band from the South Jersey/Philadelphia area signed to the label Enjoy the Ride Records.

Other/Different Ways to Say "Out of Service"

There are other expressions that carry a similar meaning to "out of service."

Here are some of them:

  • Not working
  • Non-operational
  • Unavailable
  • Inoperative
  • Down for maintenance
  • Temporarily closed
  • Busted
  • Out of order
  • Broken down
  • Under repair

10 Frequently Asked Questions About "Out of Service":

  • What does "out of service" mean?

"Out of service" indicates that a device, machine, or service is temporarily unavailable or not functioning properly, often due to maintenance or repairs.

  • How can I use "out of service" in a sentence?

You can use "out of service" to denote that a device, facility, or service is currently not operational or unavailable. For instance, "The elevator is out of service for maintenance today."

  • Where does the term "out of service" come from?

"Out of service" derives from the combination of "out of," an English phrase meaning not in a normal or proper state, and "service," which refers to the work performed by a device or system. It signifies a state where a device or service is not functioning or serving its intended purpose.

  • Is "out of service" used only for mechanical devices?

No, "out of service" can refer to any device, system, or service, digital or mechanical, that is temporarily unavailable or not functioning as expected.

  • Does "out of service" always indicate a malfunction?

No, "out of service" does not always denote a malfunction. It may also signify that a service or device is unavailable due to maintenance, updates, or other temporary conditions.

  • Can "out of service" be used to refer to people?

While less common, "out of service" can metaphorically refer to a person who is unable to perform their duties or tasks, often due to illness or exhaustion.

  • What is the opposite of "out of service"?

The opposite of "out of service" could be "in service," "operational," "working," or "available," indicating that a device, system, or service is functioning as expected and ready to be used.

  • Does "out of service" always imply a temporary condition?

Mostly, "out of service" indicates a temporary state of non-functionality. However, without additional context, it might be unclear whether the condition is temporary or permanent.

  • Can "out of service" be used in professional contexts?

Yes, "out of service" is often used in professional contexts, particularly in industries related to machinery, technology, public transportation, and customer service.

  • Is "out of service" a universal concept?

Yes, while the phrase is English, the concept of a device or service being temporarily unavailable or non-functional is a universal experience, recognizable across different cultures and languages.

Final Thoughts About "Out of Service"

The phrase "out of service" communicates a temporary state of non-functionality or unavailability, typically in reference to a device or service. Whether it's a public transport vehicle, an elevator, or a digital service, the term is widely used to indicate when something is not currently operational or accessible.

Here's a quick recap:

  • "Out of service" signifies that a device or service is temporarily non-functional or unavailable.
  • It's a universal concept understood in various industries and cultures.
  • While it often indicates a temporary condition, the exact duration may be unclear without additional context.

Whether it's due to maintenance, repairs, or other factors, "out of service" is a common term that helps manage expectations about the availability or functionality of a device or service.

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