To outsource is to hire someone outside a company to do work. A newspaper might outsource some of its stories, paying freelance writers instead of using its full-time staff.

When a business outsources, they either employ someone who freelances or works for another company, or they buy supplies from outside the company. Either way, it often involves paying less for the labor or goods, and many companies save money by outsourcing from other countries. This business term is relatively new, emerging in the 1980s from the verb source, "obtain from a particular source."

Definitions of outsource
  1. verb
    obtain goods or services from an outside supplier; to contract work out
    “Many companies outsource and hire consultants in order to maintain a flexible workforce”
    see moresee less
    type of:
    get (a product) from another country or business
Word Family

Test prep from the experts

Boost your test score with programs developed by Vocabulary.com’s experts.

  • Proven methods: Learn faster, remember longer with our scientific approach.
  • Personalized plan: We customize your experience to maximize your learning.
  • Strategic studying: Focus on the words that are most crucial for success.


  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 8 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week


  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 10 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week


  • Number of words: 700+
  • Duration: 10 weeks
  • Time: 1 hour / week