Phrasal Verbs

Phrasal Verb Meaning Example
Act on To take action because of something like information received. The police were ACTING ON a tip from an informer and caught the gang red-handed.
Act out Perform something with actions and gestures.. They ACTED OUT the story on stage.
Act up Behave badly or strangely. My computer’s ACTING UP; I think I might have a virus.
Add on Include in a calculation. You have to ADD the VAT ON to the price they give.
Add up To make a mathematical total. We ADDED UP the bill to check it was correct.
Agree with Affect- usually used in the negative to show that something has had a negative effect, especially is it makes you feel bad. I feel terrible- that food didn’t AGREE WITH my stomach.
Aim at To target. The magazine is AIMED AT teenagers.
Allow for Include something in a plan or calculation. You should ALLOW FOR delays when planning a journey.
Allow of Make possible, permit. The rules don’t ALLOW OF any exceptions.
Angle for Try to get something indirectly, by hinting or suggesting. He’s been ANGLING FOR an invitation, but I don’t want him to come.
Answer back To reply rudely to someone in authority. Her mother was shocked when she started ANSWERING her BACK and refusing to help.
Argue down Beat someone in a debate, discussion or argument. The teacher tried to ARGUE the girl DOWN, but she couldn’t.
Argue down Persuade someone to drop the price of something they’re selling. She ARGUED him DOWN ten percent.
Argue out Argue about a problem to find a solution. If we can’t ARGUE our differences OUT, we’ll have to take them to court.
Ask about Ask how someone is doing, especially professionally and in terms of health. He ASKED ABOUT my father.
Ask after Enquire about someone’s health, how life is going. Jenny rang earlier and ASKED AFTER you, so I told her you were fine.
Ask around Ask a number of people for information of help. I have no idea, but I’ll ASK AROUND at work and see if anyone can help.
Ask in To invite somebody into your house. Jon’s at the door.’ ‘ASK him IN.’
Ask out To invite someone for a date. He wanted to ASK her OUT but was too shy.
Ask over Invite. They have ASKED us OVER for drinks on Friday.
Ask round Invite someone. We ASKED John ROUND for diner.
Auction off Sell something in an auction. They AUCTIONED OFF their property as they were heavily in debt.
Back away Retreat or go backwards. The crowd BACKED AWAY when the man pulled a knife.
Back down Retract or withdraw your position or proposal in an argument. She refused to BACK DOWN and was fired.
Back into Enter a parking area in reverse gear. He prefers to BACK his car INTO the garage.
Back off Retreat. The police told the protesters to BACK OFF.
Back out Fail to keep an arrangement or promise. He BACKED OUT two days before the holiday so we gave the ticket to his sister
Back out of Fail to keep an agreement, arrangement. She BACKED OUT OF the agreement at the last minute.
Back up Make a copy of computer data. You should always BACK UP important files and documents so that you won’t lose all your work if something goes wrong with the hardware.
Bag out Criticise. Don’t bag out BAG OUT Australian English.
Ball up Confuse or make things complicated. The new project has BALLED me UP- I have no idea what to do.
Bargain down Persuade someone to drop the price of something they’re selling. I BARGAINED her DOWN to half what she originally wanted.
Bash about Mistreat physically. If you BASH your monitor ABOUT like that, it won’t last long.
Bash in Break, damage or injure by hitting. The burglars BASHED the door IN to enter the house.
Bash out Write something quickly without much preparation. I BASHED the essay OUT the night before I had to hand it in.
Be after Try to find or get. The police ARE AFTER him because of the theft.
Be along Arrive. The next bus should BE ALONG in the next quarter of an hour or so.
Be away Be elsewhere; on holiday, etc.. She’s AWAY on business for three weeks.
Be cut out for Be suitable, have the necessary qualities. She’s not CUT OUT FOR this kind of work.
Be cut up Be upset. She was very CUT UP about coming second as she thought she deserved to win.
Be down Be depressed. He’s BEEN DOWN since his partner left him.
Be fed up Be bored, upset or sick of something. I AM FED UP of his complaints.
Be taken with Like something. I WAS very TAKEN WITH the performance- it was superb.
Be up Be out of bed. She’s not UP yet.
Bear down on Move towards. She spotted him on the other side of the room and BORE DOWN ON him.
Bear on Influence, affect. The judge’s character may well BEAR ON the final decision.
Bear out Confirm that something is correct. Statistics BEAR OUT the government’s positions on the issue.
Bear up Resist pressure. How are you BEARING UP under the strain?
Bear up under Cope with something difficult or stressful. He’s BEARING UP UNDER the pressure.
Bear with Be patient. Please BEAR WITH me a moment while I finish this email.
Beat down Strong sunshine. The sun WAS really BEATING DOWN and we couldn’t stay outdoors.
Beat out Narrowly win in competition. The marathon runner barely BEAT OUT his rival at the tape.
Beat up Attack violently. The mugger BEAT him UP and stole his wallet.
Belong with Be in the correct or appropriate location with other items. Does this disc BELONG WITH those on the shelf?
Bend down Lower the top half of your body. I BENT DOWN to pick it up off the floor.
Big up Exaggerate the importance. He BIGS himself UP all the time.
Bitch up Spoil or ruin something. I BITCHED UP the interview.
Black out Fall unconscious. He BLACKED OUT and collapsed on the floor.
Blast off Leave the ground- spaceship or rocket. The space shuttle BLASTED OFF on schedule yesterday.
Block in Park a car and obstruct another car. I couldn’t drive here this morning because someone had BLOCKED me IN.
Block off Obstruct an exit to prevent people from leaving. The police BLOCKED OFF the road after the murder.
Blow away Impress greatly. Her first novel BLEW me AWAY.
Blow down When the wind forces something to fall. A tree was BLOWN DOWN in the storm.
Blow in Arrive, sometimes suddenly or unexpectedly. He BLEW IN from Toronto early this morning.
Blow off Not keep an appointment. We were going to meet last night, but she BLEW me OFF at the last minute.
Blow up Explode. The bomb BLEW UP without any warning.
Boil up Feel a negative emotion strongly. The anger BOILED UP in me when I saw what they had done.
Bone up on Study hard for a goal or reason. I need to BONE UP ON my French grammar for the test.
Book in Check in at a hotel. WE took a taxi from the airport to the hotel and BOOKED IN.
Call up Telephone. I CALLED him UP as soon as I got to a phone to tell him the news.
Calm down Stop being angry or emotionally excited. When I lose my temper, it takes ages for me to CALM DOWN again.
Cancel out Have an opposite effect on something that has happened, taking things back to the beginning. The airport taxes CANCELLED OUT the savings we had made on the flight tickets.
Cap off Finish or complete, often with some decisive action. She CAPPED OFF the meeting with a radical proposal.
Care for Like. I don’t CARE FOR fizzy drinks; I prefer water.
Carried away Get so emotional that you lose control. The team got CARRIED AWAY when they won the championship and started shouting and throwing things around.
Carry forward Make something progress. They hope the new management will be able to CARRY the project FORWARD.
Carry off Win, succeed. She CARRIED OFF the first prize in the competition.
Carry on Continue. CARRY ON quietly with your work until the substitute teacher arrives.
Decide upon Choose, select. Jane spent a long time looking at houses before she bought one, but eventually DECIDED UPON one near her office.
Die away Become quieter or inaudible (of a sound). The last notes DIED AWAY and the audience burst into applause.
Die back When the parts of a plant above ground die, but the roots remain alive. The plant DIES BACK in the winter.
Die down Decrease or become quieter. It was on the front pages of all the papers for a few days, but the interest gradually DIED DOWN.
Die for Want something a lot. I’m DYING FOR the weekend- this week’s been so hard.
Die off Become extinct. Most of the elm trees in the UK DIED OFF when Dutch elm disease arrived.
Die out Become extinct or disappear. Some scientists say that the dinosaurs DIED OUT when a comet hit the earth and caused a nuclear winter.
Dig in Start eating greedily. We were starving so we really DUG IN when the food finally did arrive.
Dig into Reach inside to get something. She DUG INTO her handbag and pulled out a bunch of keys.
Fawn over Praise someone in an excessive way to get their favour or something from them. She FAWNED OVER the inspectors in the hope that they would give her a good grade.
Feed off Eat a food as part of an animals diet. The gecko FEEDS OFF mosquitoes and other insects.
Feed on Give someone a particular food. He FEEDS his cat ON dry food.
Feed up Give someone a lot of food to restore their health, make them bigger, etc. She’s been ill for a fortnight so we’re FEEDING her UP.
Feel up Touch sexually, grope. Someone FELT me UP in the club as I was trying to get to the bar.
Feel up to Feel capable of doing something. I’m so tired. I don’t think I FEEL UP TO going out tonight.
Get ahead Progress. Nowadays, you need IT skills if you want to GET AHEAD.
Get ahead of Move in front of. I work at home in the evening to GET AHEAD OF schedule.
Get along Leave. It’s late; we must be GETTING ALONG.
Give up Stop doing something that has been a habit. I GAVE UP taking sugar in tea and coffee to lose weight.
Hit on Have an idea. I suddenly HIT ON the solution
Hold off Stop someone from attacking or beating you. Chelsea couldn’t HOLD their opponents OFF and lost the game.
Hold on Wait. Could you HOLD ON for a minute; she’ll be free in a moment.
Hook up Meet someone. We HOOKED UP at the conference.
Hunt out Search until you find something. It took me ages to HUNT OUT the photos.
Jack up Increase sharply. They have JACKED UP the price of oil this month.
Jam on Apply or operate something forcefully. Jack JAMMED ON the brakes when the rabbit ran in front of his car.
Jaw away Talk just for the point of talking rather than having anything to say. That shows that your interest is not in helping the student, but in JAWING AWAY.
Jazz up Make something more interesting or attractive. The show was getting stale so they JAZZED it UP with some new scenes.
Keep around Keep something near you. I KEEP a dictionary AROUND when I’m doing my homework.
Keep at Continue with something difficult. She found the course hard but she KEPT AT it and completed it successfully.
Keep away Don’t allow someone near something. Medicines should always be KEPT AWAY from children.
Keep back Maintain a safe distance. The police told the crowd to KEEP BACK from the fire.
Key to Plan things to fit or suit people or situations. Promotions are KEYED TO people’s abilities.
Key up Make someone excited or nervous. The noise got us KEYED UP.
Kick about Discuss. We KICKED the idea ABOUT at the meeting.
Kick in When a drug starts to take effect. Her hayfever didn’t feel half as bad once the antihistamines had KICKED IN.
Kick out Expel. The family KICKED the au pair OUT when they found out that she was planning to move to work for another household.
Knock off Finish work for the day. We KNOCKED OFF early on Friday to avoid the rush hour queues.
Lash down Secure something with ropes or cords. We LASHED the tarpaulin DOWN to stop the wind blowing it away.
Lash into Criticise someone strongly. He LASHED INTO them for messing thins up.
Lash out Suddenly become violent. He LASHED OUT and broke the man’s nose.
Lay on Organise, supply. They LAID ON a buffet lunch at the conference.
Lay out Spend money. They LAID OUT thousands of pounds on their wedding reception.
Let in Allow someone to enter. The doorstaff didn’t LET him IN the nightclub because he was wearing jeans.
Let off Not punish. The judge LET him OFF with a fine rather than a prison sentence since it was his first offence.
Line up Arrange events for someone. We have LINED UP a lot of meetings for them.
Link up Connect, join. The train LINKS UP the cities.
Live by Follow a belief system to guide your behaviour. He tries hard to LIVE BY the Bible.
Live down Stop being embarrassed about something. If I fail the test and everyone else passes, I’ll never be able to LIVE it DOWN.
Live with Accept something unpleasant. It’s hard to LIVE WITH the pain of a serious illness.
Log in Enter a restricted area on a computer system. I had forgotten my password and couldn’t LOG IN.
Log into Enter a restricted area of a computer system. I LOGGED INTO the staff intranet to check my email.
Log off Exit a computer system. When she’d finished working on the spreadsheet, she LOGGED OFF and left the office.
Log on Enter a computer system. He entered his password for the college intranet and LOGGED ON.
Log out Exit a computer system. Danny closed the programs and LOGGED OUT when it was time to go home.
Look up Consult a reference work (dictionary, phonebook, etc.) for a specific piece of information.. I didn’t know the correct spelling so I had to LOOK it UP in the dictionary.
Magic away Make something disappear quickly. He MAGICKED the bill AWAY and paid for us all before I could get my wallet out.
Make after Chase. The police MADE AFTER the stolen car.
Make away with Steal. The thieves MADE AWAY WITH the painting.
Make it Arrive or get a result. I thought you weren’t coming, so I was really pleased you MADE IT.
Make it up to Try to compensate for doing something wrong. He tried to MAKE IT UP TO her, but she wouldn’t speak to him.
Make of Understand or have an opinion. What do you MAKE OF your new boss?
Make off Leave somewhere in a hurry. They MADE OFF when they heard the police siren.
Mash up Mix sources of audio, video or other computer sources.. She MASHED UP the songs into a single track.
Melt down Heat something solid, especially metal, until it becomes liquid. They MELTED the gold statue DOWN and turned it into gold bars.
Mess about Not be serious, not use something properly. The children were MESSING ABOUT with the TV remote control and broke it.
Mix up Confuse. I always MIX those two sisters UP because they look so like each other.
Move into Start living in a place. They MOVED INTO the house as soon as it was ready.
Move up Move to make space. Could you MOVE UP and let me sit down?
Nail down Succeed in getting, achieve. They are having trouble NAILING DOWN the contract.
Name after Give someone a name to remember another person. I was NAMED AFTER my uncle who died in the war.
Narrow down Remove less important options to make it easier to choose. I am not sure which university to apply to, but I have NARROWED my list DOWN to three.
Nerd out Play safe and avoid taking a risk. I’m going to NERD OUT and not go on the river trip.
Opt for Choose. I OPTED FOR an endowment mortgage and lost a lot of money.
Opt in Choose to be part or a member of something. If you want them to notify you of updates, you have to OPT IN.
Opt into Choose to be a member or part of something. I OPTED INTO the scheme.
Opt out Choose not to be part of something. The UK OPTED OUT of a lot of EU legislation on working hours and conditions.
Pack in Stop doing something. I’m trying to PACK IN smoking.
Pack off Send someone away. His boss PACKED him OFF to a regional office.
Pack out Fill a venue. The stadium was PACKED OUT.
Pack up Stop doing something. You should PACK UP smoking.
Pad down Sleep somewhere for the night. I’m too tired to come home; can I PAD DOWN here tonight?
Pad out Make a text longer by including extra content, often content that isn’t particularly relevant. I couldn’t think of much to write, so I PADDED the essay OUT with a few lengthy quotes.
Pal around Be friendly and spend time with someone. We PALLED AROUND at university.
Pal up Become friends. We PALLED UP when I started working with her.
Pass away Die. Sadly, Georgia’s uncle PASSED AWAY yesterday after a short illness.
Pass back Return. I felt awful when the teacher started to PASS BACK the exam papers.
Pass by Go past without stopping. I was just PASSING BY when I saw the accident.
Patch up Fix or make things better. I tried to PATCH things UP after the argument, but they wouldn’t speak to me.
Pay back Repay money borrowed. I PAID BACK the twenty pounds I’d borrowed.
Pay off Produce a profitable or successful result. Their patience PAID OFF when he finally showed up and signed the contract.
Peel away Leave a group by moving in a different direction. Some of the crowd PEELED AWAY to get out of the crush.
Peg out Put washing outside to dry. I PEGGED the washing OUT after it stopped raining.
Phase in Introduce gradually. They are PHASING IN the reforms over the next two years.
Phase out Remove gradually. They have introduced a compact edition of the newspaper and are PHASING OUT the broadsheet edition over the next few months.
Pick at Eat unwillingly. I wasn’t very hungry so I just PICKED AT my food.
Pick up Collect. While you’re in town, can you PICK UP my trousers from the Dry Cleaner?
Pig out Eat a lot. The food was great, so I really PIGGED OUT.
Pile up Accumulate. Work just keeps on PILING UP and I really can’t manage to get it all done.
Pin down Discover exact details about something. The government can’t PIN DOWN where the leak came from.
Pin on Attach the blame to someone. The police tried to PIN the crime ON him.
Pin up Fix something to a wall, or other vertical surface, with a pin. I PINNED the notice UP on the board
Pine away Suffer physically because of grief, stress, worry, etc. He’s been PINING AWAY since his wife died and is a shadow of his former self.
Pipe down Be quiet (often as an imperative). The lecturer asked the students to PIPE DOWN and pay attention.
Pipe up To speak, raise your voice. At first, no one answered, then finally someone PIPED UP.
Play along Pretend to agree or accept something in order to keep someone happy or to get more information. I disagreed with the idea but I had to PLAY ALONG because everyone else liked it.
Play around Be silly. The children were PLAYING AROUND and being annoying.
Play up Behave badly. The children PLAYED UP all evening and drove the babysitter mad.
Plug in Connect machines to the electricity supply. He PLUGGED the TV IN and turned it on full blast.
Plump down Put something in a place without taking care. He PLUMPED his bag DOWN and kicked his shoes off.
Plump for Choose. I PLUMPED FOR the steak frites.
Point out Make someone aware of something. He POINTED OUT that I only had two weeks to get the whole thing finished.
Poke about Move things around or search in a casual way to try to find something. I POKED ABOUT in my CD collection to see if I could find it.
Poke around Move things around or search in a casual way to try to find something. I POKED AROUND in my desk to see if the letter was there.
Polish off Finish, consume. She POLISHES OFF half a bottle of gin every night.
Polish up Improve something quickly. I need to POLISH UP my French before I go to Paris.
Pop in Visit for a short time. He POPPED IN for a coffee on his way home.
Pop off Talk loudly, complain. He’s always POPPING OFF when things don’t suit him.
Power up Turn a computer or electronic device on so that it is ready to use. I POWERED UP my laptop and started work.
Price up Charge more for something. In rural areas where they have a monopoly, some garages PRICE UP fuel because there’s nowhere else to buy it.
Pull ahead Overtake, move in front. The lorry was going slowly but we managed to PULL AHEAD.
Pull out Move into traffic. The traffic was so bad that it took me ages to PULL OUT.

What do you think?

Written by English Melon

Biju John, author of ByeBle and Maclins, is an English Language Trainer. He has also authored his educational Fiction. All these titles are available on Amazon and Google. You can contact his office on WhatsApp / Telegram number +917510923061

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Listening with Roni 19.4

Case Notes 20.1 Chuck Hooper