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to pan out

Idiom: to pan out; used as a verb

First example: Stacy was extremely nervous before Tim’s surprise party. She planned on getting him to the party at exactly 8:00, but there was a huge traffic accident on the freeway. Stacy exited the freeway and remembered a shortcut to the restaurant, so she got Tim there just in time. Stacy was happy that everything panned out, and the surprise party was a success.

Meaning: “to pan out” means “to have a successful result.” We generally use this idiom to talk about a difficult or challenging situation. In this example, Stacy was having a problem getting Tim to the restaurant by 8:00 because of the freeway accident. After she remembered the shortcut, she was able to successfully get Tim to the party on time.

Here is another example:

Second example: Jason wanted to start a computer business. He worked for several years and invested a lot of his time and money into the business. Unfortunately, it didn’t pan out, and Jason lost a lot of money. Even though the business failed, Jason learned a lot from his efforts.

Meaning: In this example, Jason failed in his attempt to start a business. Starting a business is very challenging and Jason put a lot of time and money into creating the business. Sadly, it wasn’t successful; the negative form (“didn’t pan out”) is used. This idiom is commonly used in this type of situation.

This idiom is from LSI’s book “Speaking Transitions,” which is used in the Level 4 Listening/Speaking classes. For more information, please visit

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