‘Smoke Me Out’: Definition, Meaning, and Examples

By Sophia Merton, updated on March 3, 2023

Did someone use the phrase 'smoke me out,' and you have no idea what it means?

'Smoke (someone) out' is a phrase that has a number of different meanings:

  • To drive someone or something out using smoke
  • To expose someone or somebody
  • To smoke cannabis with someone typically implying that one person is supplying it.

What Does 'Smoke Me Out' Mean?

To ‘smoke (someone) out’ is a phrase that has a few separate meanings:

  1. To drive out (someone or something) using smoke
  2. To expose (someone or somebody) idiomatic, figurative
  3. To smoke cannabis with someone slang

The first definition is the literal meaning of the phrase. In brief, there is an old hunting technique that is used for flushing games, such as rabbits, from a burrow. The hunters would start a fire at the lowest entrance of the burrow and continue to feed greenery to the fire to encourage the smoke to form.

This smoke would then be fanned into the burrow, which would then force the game animals to run out of the other exits of the burrow. The hunters would have snared, trapped, or otherwise planned out a method of capture at these other exits.

The literal meaning can also be used in the context of law enforcement or the military, where the strategy of creating smoke in a building can help force wanted people out of hiding.

The idiomatic definition listed as the second meaning of ‘some (someone) out’ derives from the literal meaning. This phrase can be used to describe the act of exposing someone in a way that figuratively points to the old hunting method of ‘smoking out.’

Finally, the third bullet point above is the slang definition that has to do with smoking cannabis. If someone says that they are going to ‘smoke you out,’ they’re implying that they want to get high and they’ll be providing the marijuana.

On the other hand, if you ask someone to ‘smoke me out,’ you’re asking to smoke weed with them and typically implying that they will be supplying the cannabis.

Where Does 'Smoke Me Out' Come From?

'Smoke me out' is a phrase that comes from an old hunting technique that involves lighting a fire to cause smoke to enter the burrows of animals so that they will be chased out.

According to the prominent Virginia planter and public figure Robert Beverly, Native Americans were using such a technique in the early 18th century. We also find this style of hunting being discussed in an encyclopedia from 1829. However, this is likely an ancient hunting technique that is thought to have been used by the Neanderthals roughly 30,000 years ago.

While the phrase 'smoke me out' in reference to marijuana is fairly new, the concept of 'smoking someone out' is not. Using the Google Books Ngram Viewer, we see that 'smoke out' has been in use since before the 1800s, as well as 'smoking out' and 'smoke them out.'

According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, the transitive meaning of the word 'smoke,' as in "drive away or out into the open by means of smoke," dates all the way back to the 1590s.

Examples of 'Smoke Me Out' In Sentences

How would you use ‘smoke (someone) out’ in a sentence? Let’s take a look at examples for each of the different definitions.

‘Smoke (Someone) Out’: The Literal Definition

Here are some examples of how to use 'smoke me out' or 'smoke someone out' when talking about actually using smoke to drive someone or something out of a hiding place:

  • “Son, we’re going to smoke those rabbits out of their burrow– you start building a fire, and I’ll set the traps.”
  • “When we were kids, we always hunted by smoking game out of their holes. I haven’t done it in ages, though.”
  • “The suspect had holed himself up in the building and was armed and dangerous. The officers decided to try and smoke him out as it seemed like the safest course of action.”

‘Smoke (Someone) Out’: The Figurative Definition

Here are some examples of how to use 'smoke me out' or 'smoke someone out' when talking about exposing someone:

  • "I'm tired of my co-worker always getting away with doing nothing. I will forward the email he sent me to the boss and smoke him out."
  • "I can't believe she shared those documents with my husband's lawyer. She's trying to smoke me out."
  • "Sarah can't hide in her apartment alone for the rest of her life. We need to come up with some way to smoke her out."
  • John refuses to apologize for his actions or even acknowledge them. I don't know how, but I'm going to smoke him out."

‘Smoke (Someone) Out’: The Modern Slang Definition

Here are some examples of how to use 'smoke me out' or 'smoke someone out' when talking about smoking cannabis:

  • "Jimmy, you said you were going to smoke us out! Now you're asking me for weed?"
  • "Would you be willing to smoke me out if I get you back next week? I'm totally out until I get my paycheck."
  • "The party was awesome. Tina smoked everyone out and we danced all night long."
  • "I lent you two hundred dollars last week, and now you're asking me to smoke you out? This is getting ridiculous, Tom."
  • "Come on, man; I've been giving you rides all week since you're car has been in the shop. The least you could do is smoke me out."

Final Thoughts on 'Smoke Me Out'

'Smoke me out' is an interesting phrase that has three different meanings. The first two-- to literally smoke someone or something out of space and to figuratively expose someone or something-- both come from the old hunting technique described earlier. The last definition-- to smoke cannabis with someone-- originates from the fact that cannabis is most frequently ingested via smoking.

Are you ready to learn more English idioms? Make sure you head over to our idioms blog for more fascinating phrases, expressions, and proverbs!

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Written By:
Sophia Merton
Sophia Merton is one of the lead freelance writers for WritingTips.org. Sophia received her BA from Vassar College. She is passionate about reading, writing, and the written word. Her goal is to help everyone, whether native English speaker or not, learn how to write and speak with perfect English.

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