abide by

To accept and obey the law, rule, etc., e.g. We have to abide by the law even if we don’t agree with it.


accede to

To reluctantly agree to a demand, etc.


act … out



act up

To perform a past event;

To express one’s feelings through one’s behaviour.


(Children) to behave badly.

(Machine, etc.) does not work in the way it should.


add … in


add … on



add to



add up




add up to


To include something with something else.


To enlarge something, especially a building, e.g. They added on an extension to the museum to house the fossil collection.


To increase the amount, cost, or degree of something.


To increase by small amounts to reach a total.

To calculate the total of something, e.g. to add up one’s points, marks, scores, etc.

To total up.


To combine small amounts to find out the total, e.g. When the service charges are taken in, the bill adds up to an amount greater than expected.


adhere to

To conduct oneself in accordance to a particular rule, etc.


admit of

To accept something as capable of existing or happening.


agree with

To have the same view as someone else.


aim at



aim … at

To try to achieve an outcome, e.g. She aims at losing 10 kg by the end of the year.


To point something such as a weapon, camera, etc. at a target, e.g. He aims his camera at his group of friends.

To design something for a specific class or group of people, e.g. The new radio station aims most of its programs at a teenage audience.


allow for




allow of

To consider all factors involved so the problem can be resolved, e.g. If we allow for inevitable wastage, the amount of material needed will be greater to meet the production quota.


To show that something is likely


allude to

To refer to someone or something


amount to

To equal to something, e.g. The loss through pilferage amounts to at least 3 % of production cost.

To have same effect as something else, e.g. Her remark amounts to an insult.


angle for

To request something in an indirect way, e.g. Quite obviously, he’s angling for a date with her.


answer for




answer to

To explain one’s wrong deed or to explain on behalf of someone, e.g. The coach must answer for the team’s poor performance.


To explain something, especially having done something wrong, to someone, e.g. He answers directly to the Chief Engineer.


appertain to

To belong to or concern something


arse around/about

To waste time, e.g. He has been warned not to arse about in the park.


ascribe … to

To accept that an event comes about because of someone or something, e.g. They ascribe the high unemployment rate to the government’s mismanagement of the economy.


ask … for






ask … out

To say that one wants something, e.g. We asked at the counter for free gift vouchers but got none because we have not spent enough.

To show something as requested, e.g. I was asked for my identity card which I had not brought along, so I was not allowed into the office.


To invite someone out, e.g. This is the tenth and maybe last time I’ll ask her out after nine unsuccessful attempts.


attend to

To deal with something or help someone, e.g. He had to attend to more emergency cases today than any other days.


attribute to

To say a situation is caused by something, e.g. The residents attribute the increase in burglary cases to lack of regular patrol of the streets by the police.

To say that someone is responsible for something, e.g. They attribute the short stories to him without having any clear evidence that he wrote them.


average out

To calculate the usual number of times a thing happens.


awake to

To be aware of something and its possible effects, e.g. People are starting to awake to the therapeutic value of herbs.


awaken … to

To make someone aware of something and its consequences.


back away



back down




back off



back onto


back up




back … up



To move backwards;

To become uninterested or cease participation in something.


To concede defeat or stop being confrontational, e.g. The workers planned to go on strike, but backed down when the employers threaten to sake them.


To move away from someone or something, usually because of danger or to avoid injury, e.g. He was warned to back off, but he refused and a fight ensued.


(Building, etc.) To have its back facing a particular area.


To make a copy of data on a computer program or disc., e.g. He has cultivated a good habit of backing up every piece of work he does.


To provide evidence to support one’s statement, claim, etc., e.g. Jack backed up his claim of winning the jackpot by producing a photocopy of his cheque for the winning amount.

To move or move a vehicle in the reverse direction, e.g. I backed up my car a little in the parking lot between two cars so we could get out.

To support someone in a situation by agreeing with them or doing something to help them, e.g. He is doing it not just for himself, so I’ll back him up.


bag … up

To put small items into bags.


bail out

To deposit money for someone to be out of prison while awaiting court trial.

To help someone or a financial institution ut of financial problem by providing money.


ball … up

To complicate matters.


band together

To unite in order to achieve something.


bandy … about

To flaunt or say something repeatedly with intention to impress.


bang on

bang … out

bang … up

To talk incessantly in a boring manner.

To sing a song or play a tune loudly and badly.

To wreck something.


bank on

To rely on someone or something to produce an outcome.


bargain for

To be prepared for something adverse that may happen to one’s plan.


barge in

barge in on

To go or dash in uninvited.

To interrupt rudely.


base … on/upon

To use something as basis for development of a course of action.


bash away at

bash on

To continue working or hitting hard at something.

To persist in an activity or process in order to complete something.


bat … around

To engage in a discussion about something.


bawl … out

To scold someone for the wrong they have done.


bear down

bear … down

bear … out



bear up

bear with

To appear threatening to someone in the way one behaves.

To apply pressure on something.

To deal successfully with a difficult person or something.

To use something to testify to the existence or truth of something else.

To be undaunted by adverse conditions.

To ask someone to be patient while you are engaged with something. To exercise patience with a difficult person.


beat down

beat … down

beat off

beat out


beat … out

beat up

(Sunlight, rain, etc.) to come down in large quantity.

To bargain for or persuade someone to offer a lower price.

To frighten or drive someone or something away.

To extinguish a fire by beating;

To beat out a rhythm on a drum.

To defeat a competition rival.

To cause injury to someone by physical assault, e.g. Members of the public caught up with the pickpocket and beat him up until he pleaded for mercy.


beaver away

To be doing some difficult, tiring work.


bed down

To make person or an animal comfortable for the night.


beef … up

To make something better, e.g. Control in the prison was beefed up after the riot.


beg off

To say you cannot do something as agreed.


believe in

To feel sure or accept that something exists, either good or bad, e.g. He just doesn’t believe in Nessie.

To feel someone can be trusted, e.g. The children always believe in their father despite adverse rumours being spread about him.

To have one’s views about something, e.g. We believe in the equality of the sexes in the workplace.


belly out

To become larger, greater or full.


belong to

To be the property or a member of a group or organization.


belt … out


belt up

To sing out loud or play a loud tune from a musical instrument.


To instruct someone bluntly to keep quiet.


bind somebody over

To restrain someone from causing trouble under threat of legal punishment.


bite back

bite into



bite … off

To retaliate.

To cut against a surface.

To start using up something, especially one’s personal savings.

To use the teeth to cut off a piece from a main part, e.g. He bit off a piece of a pizza and strangely spat it out.


black out

To faint, e.g. He blacks out whenever he sees too much blood.

(City, etc.) to turn off all the lights in a wide area.


blank out

To cover or erase something so it cannot be seen or recall.


blast off

(Rocket, etc.) to leave the ground.


blend in

To mix or combine something with its surrounding.


block in/out


block … off

block … out

To make a drawing of something that gives a general idea but is not exact.

To completely close a place such as a road, etc.

To prevent light passing through.

To erase, especially a bitter memory.


blot … out

blot … up

To cover or hide something completely.

To wipe surface dry with a cloth or other absorbent material.


blow away





blow down


blow in


blow off




blow … out














blow up

To shoot someone to death.

To be carried away by the wind, e.g. I put some comic books outside and the wind blew away a couple of them into the drain.


To cause something to drop on the ground, usually by the wind.


To blow air into something with our mouth.


To treat someone or something as unimportant, e.g. He blew off his overseas assignments by not accepting them.


To put out a flame by blowing, e.g. A strong gust of wind blew out all the candles in the temple when the keeper opened a window.

(Car) to blow a tyre, e.g. He just couldn’t figure out what caused a tyreof his car to blow out.

To cease to function, e.g. An electric bulb blew out suddenly while I was reading.

(Storm) to come to an end, e.g. After a few hours the storm blew itself out.

(Electricity) to suddenly stop working, e.g. The fuse of a piece of electrical equipment blows out causing it to stop working.

To destroy or damage something, e.g. The explosion blew the shelves right out of the wall.


To be destroyed by an explosion, e.g. A bomb planted by a saboteur exploded, blowing up a power station.

To make something bigger by forcing air into it, e.g. He blew up a balloon but it couldn’t get bigger because it has a tiny hole.

To make a photograph, picture, etc. larger, e.g. She blew her photograph up so that the mole on her left cheek is more noticeable.

To become very angry with someone or something, e.g. Jill’s father immediately blew up when he read the amount on the telephone bill.


blurt … out

To say something suddenly without thinking.


board … out

board … up

To pay and arrange for an animal to stay with someone.

To cover, e.g. a window,  with wooden boards


bog down



bog off

To be too deeply involved in something to have time to do other thing.


To tell someone to go away.


boil away


boil down




boil down to



boil over


boil up

To heat liquid so much until it evaporates.


To reduce the quantity of food or liquid due to cooking.

To edit information so that unnecessary detail is not included.


To be concerned only with the significant or essential element, e.g. Her wish to continue living with him despite his abusive behaviour boils down to her fear of loneliness.


To overflow.


To start losing one’s temper.


bomb … out

To completely destroy a structure.


bone up

To study hard for an examination.


book in

book … on

To check in a hotel.

To make arrangements for someone to travel on a plane or train.


boot … out


boot up

To dismiss or expel someone, especially from a job or organization.

To get a computer ready for use.


border on

To be on the verge of, especially on the verge of tears.


bottle out

bottle … up

To withdraw suddenly from an activity you are engaged in.

To hide one’s feelings.


bottom out

To stop getting worse, especially prices.


bounce back

To get better or recover, especially from bad times.


bow down


bow out



bow to

To lower your head slightly by bending top part of body forward to show respect.

To withdraw from an activity, etc. which one has been engaged in for a long time.


To accede to a request or demand.


bowl along

bowl … out

To move very quickly, especially in a vehicle.

To accidentally knock someone down while dashing.


box … in

box … off

To feel you cannot act or move freely.

To separate a smaller area from a larger one by partitioning or erecting walls around it.


branch off

(Road, river, etc.) to separate from another and go in a different direction.

To talk something else which is not related to what is being discussed, conversed, etc.


brave … out

To deal bravely with something that causes fear or problem.


brazen … out

To deal confidently with a difficult or embarrassing situation.


break away




break down









break for 



break in/into




break off






break out 



break through




break up

To leave a group or political party, usually due to disagreement, to form their own.


To cry, e.g. He broke down instantly when informed that his terminally ill mother had passed away in the hospital.

To gain entry, e.g. Firemen had to break the door down to rescue an elderly occupant from the fire.

(Vehicle, machine, etc.) To stop working, e.g. A couple of cars broke down in the midst of a traffic jam, aggravating the situation.

(Negotiation) to fail, e.g. The negotiation for the exchange of prisoners broke down because one side remains uncompromising in its demands.

(Total amount) to separate into individual items or amounts.


To leave whatever you are doing for lunch, etc.


To forcibly enter a place such as a building for an illegal purpose, e.g. Thieves broke into an office building by breaking a window.


To discontinue a relationship, diplomatic relations, etc., e.g. Both countries broke off diplomatic relations after one accused the other’s embassy staff of involvement in espionage.

To separate, especially a piece from a larger one, e.g. He broke off a piece of bun and threw it into a pond to feed the fishes.


To escape from a place, e.g. After he broke out of jail once, he was transferred to a maximum security prison.


To forcibly go through something, etc., e.g. The burglars broke through a wall to gain entry to the bank safe.


To stop a fight, e.g. They use pails and buckets full of water, and hose to splash and spray water to break up a fight between two dogs.

To separate a gathering, e.g. Police appeared as usual to break up a peaceful demonstration as expected.

To end a romantic relationship, e.g. Their relationship broke up after they accused each other of being selfish.

To cause something to separate into many small pieces, e.g. Someone broke my mug up, but no one owns up.


breathe in

breathe out

To take in air; to inhale.

To send air out from the lungs


breeze through

To finish or complete something easily, e.g. a task.


brew up

To make a drink of tea.


brick … off


brick … up

To separate an area from a bigger one by building a wall of bricks.

To fill or close a space by building a wall of bricks in it.


brighten up

brighten … up

(Sky) to become brighter.

To make something more beautiful or colourful.


brim over

(A box, container, etc.) to be overfilled until it cannot be covered.


bring about

bring around


bring back








bring … down






bring ... down on


bring … forth


bring … forward


bring in






bring ... on/upon



bring out



bring over



bring ... through


bring ... together


birng ... up

To cause something to happen, or introduce new ideas.

To make someone regain consciousness.

To persuade someone to agree.

To revive something that was used previously, e.g. More and more people are clamouring for capital punishment to be brought back.

To return with something, especially from abroad or shop, e.g. He went to a pet shop and brought back a couple of terrapins.

To make one remember or recall something, e.g. Listening to these songs brings back fond memories.


To bring bird, plane, etc. down by shooting.

To stop a government from continuing,

To bring anything high up such as a kite, helicopter, etc. down to the ground.



To cause something bad to happen to someone, especially financial ruin.


To display something or make it visible.


To make something happen sooner rather than later.


To receive an income or earning, e.g. He works for a large company and brings in a handsome salary.

To include or invite someone to participate in a discussion, etc.           

To involve someone in something.


To cause something bad to happen to someone, e.g. heavy rain had brought on landslides.


To produce something;

To make a person display his best/worst quality.


To move someone or something from where they are to where one is, e.g. She is bringing her sister over tonight for a game of cards.


To help someone endure a difficult period of time.


To assemble two or more people for a particular purpose.


To raise a question, subject, etc. at a meeting.

To care for a child until he/she is a grown-up.


bristle with

To have a lot of or be full of something.


broaden out

To become wider.


bruit … abroad

To spread a report or rumour widely.


brush … aside

brush … down

brush … off





brush up on

To deliberately ignore something.

To clean clothes or pet animals with a bush.

To refuse to consider someone’s idea, opinion, etc. by ignoring them or passing unkind remark, e.g. The police head brushed the whole thing off when informed that some people are planning a bank robbery right in the city centre.


To quickly reread work done previously that one has forgotten or to improve one’s knowledge, or to practise and improve on an activity, e.g. I think I’d better brush up on my singing and resume my singing career.


buck for

buck up

To attempt at achieving something.

To make or become more cheerful.


bucket down

To rain heavily.


build … in/into




build on

To make or include something as a permanent part of something else, e.g. He had a safe built into the wall of his house.


To add an extension to a building in order to enlarge it.

To improve on something or carry out more development on it


bulk … out

To treat a product so that it becomes or appears thicker or bigger or its quantity appears greater than it is, e.g. I added some potatoes to the stew to bulk it out.


bum around/about

To laze about doing nothing.


bump into






bump … off

bump … up

To meet someone you know by chance, e.g. I found it amazing when I bumped into my neighbour in a shopping centre despite it being packed to capacity.

To accidentally knock into someone or something, e.g. I hurried round the corner of a corridor and accidentally bumped into a woman carrying drinks on a tray, knocking them all over the floor.

To murder someone.

To make something larger or appear to be larger.


bundle … off



bundle up

To send someone somewhere in a hurry, e.g. He was handcuffed and bundled off in a police car.


To dress in warm clothes.

To tie things together to form a bundle.


bung … up

To block something up such as putting something in a hole.


bunk off

To leave early and secretly from a place such as school or work.


burn away


burn down




burn … off



burn out







burn up




burn … up



be burning with

To be completely destroyed or greatly damaged by fire, e.g. The fire burned away all his valuable personal possessions.

To be destroyed by fire, e.g. The whole factory was burned down after an explosion.

(Fire) to become weaker, e.g. The fire burns down as its flame has become weaker and produced less heat.


To get rid of something by burning it, e.g. She burnt off all his photos.


To become exhausted through overwork, e.g. He burned himself out by working three full days with very little rest and sleep.

To be partially destroyed by fire, e.g. The fire burnt out the kitchen and the adjoining bedroom.

(Fire) to stop burning, e.g. After three hours, the fire burnt itself out.


To be completely destroyed by fire or physical exercises, etc. e.g. The whole building was completely burned up; physical exercises burn up fat, calories, etc.


To make someone very angry, e.g. It really burned her up when the boss disapproved her application for a long leave.



To be entirely possessed by (a desire or emotion).


burst in on/upon

burst into





burst onto


burst out

To interrupt something at an embarrassing moment.

To intrude into a place suddenly without thinking.

To suddenly start to cry or burn, e.g. burst into tears; burst into flames.

To appear suddenly in a location.


To explode outward.


To suddenly begin to cry, laugh, or say something in an assertive manner, e.g. The audience burst out laughing when the clown’s trousers suddenly dropped revealing a pair of yellow shorts with red polka dots.


bust out

bust up

bust … up

To escape from a place, especially a prison.

To separate as lovers, partners, friends etc;

To disrupt something or prevent it from continuing; to damage or break up something.


butt in



butt out

To interrupt or intrude rudely on a conversation or activity, e.g. Whenever Jack talked to a girl at the party, Jill would butt in.


To tell someone to stop interfering.


butter … up

To flatter someone.


buy in


buy … in



buy into



buy … off



buy … out



buy up

To buy something in bulk.


To withdraw something at auction because it fails to reach the reserve price.


To make partial purchase of a business with aim to control it; to accept or believe an idea.


To pay someone money to stop them causing trouble  or threatening you.


To pay someone to give up ownership, interest, or share of a business.

To pay for one’s release from the armed services.


To buy as much and as quickly as you can of something.