loose … on/upon

To allow something dangerous and destructive to begin to affect a situation or other people.


loosen up

To warm up the body, especially the muscles and joints, in preparation for a physical activity.


lop … off

To cut off, especially a branch or limb, from a tree or body.

To make a slight reduction in a price or charge.


lose out

To fail to get something, e.g. to lose out on a job, business contract, etc. which go to a rival.


louse up

To spoil, or to do something badly, or to make something worse.


luck out

To succeed due to good luck, e.g. We both bought lottery tickets and he, not me, lucked out when he discovered he hit the jackpot.


lump … together

To combine into an indiscriminate mass or group.


lust after

To feel strong sexual desire for someone or something.


luxuriate in

To relax and consciously enjoy something.


magic … away

magic … up

To use magic to make someone or something disappear.

To make something appear suddenly and unexpectedly.


make after

make away with




make for





make ... into





make ... of







make off


make off with



make out




make ... out










make ... over






make up





make ... up

To pursue someone or something.

To steal something, e.g. The thieves made away with a safe.

To kill someone or something.


To move towards someone or something, e.g. We made for the railway station as quickly as we could.

To have a particular result or make something possible, e.g. Proper training makes for smooth operation of the machinery.


To change the form or purpose of something, e.g. Jack planned to make the attic into a study.

To change someone’s character, etc., e.g. A road accident has made him into a careful driver.


To express an opinion of something, e.g. We do not know what to make of the ultimate consequences of climate warming.

To use opportunities to achieve an outcome, e.g. I want to make use of whatever money I have for my higher education.

To give someone a new job or position in a group, organization, etc., e.g. He was made captain of the team.


To leave hurriedly.


To take something away illegally, e.g. he made off with my bicycle while I was not looking.


To manage with difficulty to see, etc., e.g. On that foggy night the driver could barely make out what was in front of him until his car rammed into it.


To issue payment by means of a cheque, e.g. He makes a cheque out in favour of one of his creditors.

To have sufficient evidence to effect a conviction, e.g. The police feel they have made out a case to charge the culprit.

To have individual opinions on something or someone, e.g. The horror movie is not as scary as you made it out to be.

To survive a difficult situation, e.g. His wife has run away, he will make out somehow.

To find good reasons to prove or explain something, e.g. The police believe they have made out a strong case against the accused.


To give money or legally transfer ownership of property to someone else, e.g. His father made over the whole factory to his son.

To change one’s own appearance with cosmetics, hairstyling, new clothes, etc.


To be reconciled after a quarrel, etc., e.g. They make up every now and then after an angry argument or disagreement.

To make a choice, e.g. I haven’t made up my mind to give up smoking or lose weight, or do both at the same time.


To improve one’s appearance, e.g. The regular use of cosmetics has made her up much younger than her actual age.

To invent a story, etc. in order to deceive someone, e.g. He made a fictional happening up to escape punishment.

To add an amount that is enough for a particular purpose, e.g. I don’t have enough money to buy her a birthday present, so I borrowed to make up the difference.


map … out

To plan a course of action carefully.


mark … down







mark ... off








mark ... up

To write something down in order to keep a record.

To reduce the indicated price of an item.

To judge someone to be a potential leader, etc.

To reduce the marks awarded to a candidate or for their work, e.g. He was marked down as his work has missed the point by not understanding the main meaning of the questions.


To isolate an area such as a building, road, etc. by putting a rope, tape, cones, etc. around it, e.g. the murder scene has been marked off with police tape.

To tick off items on a list for a purpose, e.g. She has marked off the items that she has already bought.

To distinguish someone from others, e.g. Her ability to debate in class has marked her off as a potential representative debater of her school.


To increase the profit margin, e.g. Cell phones may be marked up by as much as 60%.


marry into


marry … off

To become a member of a family by marriage, e.g. She married into a very wealthy family.

To look for a spouse for someone, e.g. They married her off to the first young man who came along.


match up


match … up

To match a report, piece of information, etc. with another to see of they are the same.

To find something that is similar to or suitable for something else.


max out

To do something with as much effort and determination as one can.


measure against


measure … off



measure ... out


measure up

To judge someone or something by comparing them with another person or thing.

To measure the required amount of material and cut it off a larger piece.


To take out a certain amount of liquid, powder, etc. from a larger quantity.


To determine whether one is good enough for a particular job, position, etc., e.g.The new manager has not measured up to his responsibilities.


meet up



meet with

To come and do something together, e.g. We used to meet up on weekend to go fishing.


To mutually agree to come face to face for a purpose.

To have a particular reaction to something, e.g. The star’s emergence from a car was met with a loud cheer.


melt down

To heat metal until it becomes liquefied and reuse it, e.g. His hobbies include melting down unwanted metal objects to make souvenirs for sale.


mess around/about


mess around with

mess up/mess … up










mess with

To behave in a silly way that lacks purpose.

To cause problems for someone.

To have an affair with someone that one should not have.

To make something dirty or untidy, e.g. The puppies have really messed up the sitting room.

To interfere with something and turn it into a confused state, e.g. I’ve arranged my CDs in alphabetical order, but someone has messed it up.

To handle a situation wrongly or ineffectively, or to spoil something.

To ruin one’s own personal life, e.g. She feels she has messed up her whole life by running up massive credit card debts.


To get involved in or interfere with something or someone.


mete … out

To dispense justice, punishment, etc. to someone.


mike … up

To equip someone with a microphone so that his voice can be made louder.


militate against

To stop something from happening or stop someone from doing something


mill around/about

(A lot of people) to move around a place in different directions.


minister to

To attend to the needs of someone.


minor in

To study a subsidiary subject in addition to the main one.


miss out

To fail to use an opportunity to do something enjoyable.

To fail to include someone or something, e.g. to miss out some punctuation marks in one’s essay.


mist over

mist up

(Eyes) to become filled with tears.

To become covered with tiny water droplets or condensed vapour, e.g. one’s glasses have misted up.


mistake for

To wrongly identify someone or something as someone or something else, e.g. mistook a cheetah for a leopard.


mix … up

To confuse someone or something with someone or something else, e.g. The teacher often mixes him up with his twin brother.

To combine two or more things together, e.g. A good way to mix the ingredients up thoroughly is to use an electric mixer.

To disrupt the order or arrangement of something, e.g. He unknowingly mixed up those arranged papers which are not numbered, and now they have to sort and rearrange them.

To become confused or make someone feel confused, e.g. They really mixed me up, telling me different stories about the same person.


mock … up

To replicate or imitate something.


monkey around





monkey with

To behave in a silly, careless or playful way, e.g. The children monkey around in the park and cause damage to some of the exotic plants.

To tamper with something without authority or the required skill, e.g. My kid monkeyed around with my cell phone and now it can’t make any call.

To interfere with something so as to cause damage.


mooch around/about

To move around without any apparent purpose.


moon about/around

moon over

To spend time in a relaxed, lazy manner.

To miss and long for someone.


mop … up

To wipe or soak up liquid with a mop, cloth, etc. from a surface.

To complete or put an end to something by dealing with the remaining parts.


mope around/about

To feel sad or dispirited.


mount up

To gradually increase in size or amount.


mouth off

To talk in a conceited way.


move along

move away


move in




move into



move off


move on




move out




move to



move over


move up

To go further to the front or back of something.

To change one’s place of residence.


To start living with someone, e.g. Jill moved in with her boyfriend

despite her parents' objection.


To start living in a place, e.g. Jack and Jill are planning to move into a rural area of the country for some peace and quiet.


(Vehicle or crowd) to start to move away.


To carry on with one’s journey.

To start talking a new part of the subject under discussion or start talking a new subject.


To stop living in a place in order to live somewhere else, e.g. We are looking for a house somewhere and move out of our apartment.


To shift someone or something out of a place, e.g. The villagers move their belongings to higher ground in anticipation of a flood.


To shift position and so create more space for others.


To get a promotion in the place where one works.


mow … down

To kill a large group of people at one time by shooting them.

To recklessly knock someone down with a car.


muck about/around

muck around with

muck in



muck ... out



muck ... up

To behave in a silly way without purpose.

To spoil something by interfering with it.

To share accommodation or tasks with others in order to complete a job


To clean a place, especially where an animal lives, e.g. to muck a stable.


To spoil a plan.

To fail to achieve something.

To dirty a place or something such as one’s clothes, etc.


muddle along

muddle through


muddle … up

To engage aimlessly in an activity.

To cope satisfactorily with something despite not having the know-how.

To confuse two or more things with each other.


mug up

To study intensively in preparation for an examination.


mull … over

To think and consider about something at length.


muscle in

To force one’s way into another’s affairs to gain control.


nail … down

To elicit a firm commitment from someone.

To decide or identify something precisely.


narrow down

To reduce, e.g. In the second round, the number of finalists will be narrowed down to five.


nibble away at

To keep taking small amounts out of a large amount.


nip … off

To remove something by pinching or squeezing tightly between finger and thumb.


nod off

To begin to fall asleep.


nose … out

To discover something after a long search.


notch  … up

To achieve something such as a victory, total, score, etc.


number off

(Soldiers) to call out their number when their turn comes.


occur to

(Thought, idea, etc) to come into the mind.


open up

(Crack, hole, etc.) to appear and become wider.

To begin shooting with a weapon, e.g. The gangsters opened up with small arms, but all of them were soon shot dead by the police.

(Land) to make it available for development, e.g. The developer is opening up a jungle area for a housing project.

(Office, shop, cinema, etc.) to begin operation, e.g. The new cinema is expected to open up soon.

(Box, container, etc.) to remove or unfasten the cover, e.g. She opened up her jewellery box and showed us the contents.

(Door, window, etc.) to make them open, e.g. The supermarket here opens up at 10:00 every day.


opt out

To decide not to participate in a group, activities, etc.

To avoid performing a duty.


order … about



order ... out

To use one’s power or authority to tell someone to do something.


To deploy soldiers, police, etc. for a particular action such as crowd control, dealing with natural disaster, etc.


own up

To admit to having done something wrong or embarrassing.


pack … away

pack … in



pack ... off


pack up

To put something back in its box, case, container, etc.

To cram a lot of things into a space, place, period of time, etc.


To send someone away.


To stop working or close early in business.


pad … out

To lengthen a speech or piece of writing with unnecessary material.


page through

To turn over the pages of a book, magazine, etc. and read them quickly or casually.


paint … in

paint … out

paint … over

To make additional painting to a picture.

To erase something with paint so that it is no longer visible.

To cover something with new paint.


pair off

pair up

To become or form a couple.

To form a couple to work together or start a relationship.


pal around



pal up

To go around or do things together with a friend or with someone as a friend.


To form a friendship with someone.


palm off

To sell someone something by deceiving them.


pan out

To end up in a particular way.


pander to

To give or allow oneself to enjoy the desired pleasure of an immoral habit.


pant for

To long for or to do something.


parcel … out

parcel …off

parcel … up

To separate something into parts and hand them out.

To separate something into parts for sale.

To make something into a parcel by wrapping it.


pare … down

To make or become less, or reduce gradually.


part with

To unwillingly hand over possession of something to someone else.


partake of

To have certain characteristic.


partition … off

To divide or separate a room, floor, etc. into parts by erecting a structure such as a light interior wall, etc.


partner up/off

To become or make people become partners.


pass around




pass away


pass by


pass ... down




pass for


pass off




pass on




pass out



pass over


pass up

To offer something to each member of a group.

To hand something over from one person to the next in a group.


To die.


To go past someone or something.


To hand over something such as knowledge, traditions, etc. to people who are younger, those who live after one, to the next generation, etc.


To be mistaken as someone else, e.g. with her dressing she could have passed for a wealthy woman.


To try to deceive someone that someone else or something is much better, e.g. trying to pass these fake watches off as genuine.


To give something such as information, message, disease, etc. to someone else.

To make consumers bear higher costs.


To faint.

To distribute.


To select someone instead of the expected person for a promotion, etc.


To fail to make use of something such as an opportunity, etc.


patch … together

patch … up

To make something hastily from different components.

To restore friendly relations after a quarrel or dispute.

To repair damage to something.

To treat someone’s injuries.


pay … back





pay for



pay ... for



pay in/into


pay off






pay out



pay up

To settle one’s debt with someone, e.g. He is always slow in paying back the money he owes.

To pay back with something bad, e.g. Jack swore he would pay Jill back for what she did to him.


To give someone money in exchange for something, e.g. He paid for his new car in cash.


To suffer the consequences of one’s actions or be punished for them, e.g. He’ll pay the price for habitually drinking excessively someday.


To put money in one’s bank account.


To settle the outstanding balance for something, e.g. pay off the balance owing for purchase of a car.

To produce good results.

To give someone money to keep quiet about something such as an illegal act.

To dismiss someone with a final payment.


To hand over money, especially a large sum, for something such as compensation, etc.


To settle or be forced to settle one’s debts, e.g. I have already received their third legal letter demanding that I pay up.


peck at

To eat food slowly due to lack of hunger.


peel off

To remove a thin outer layer of something.

To take one’s clothes off.

To leave a moving group such as a convoy, etc. by changing direction.


peg away

peg out

To work hard over a long period.

To use pegs to fix wet clothes to a washing line to dry.

To mark a piece of ground with wooden sticks.

To die.


pen … up/in

To keep an animal or animals in an enclosed area or confine someone in a restricted space.


pencil … in

To temporarily compile a list of something that is subject to change later.


pension … off

To terminate someone’s employment, usually because they are officially considered too old to continue working, and pay them a pension.

To dispose of something that is not useful any more or outdated.


pep … up

To make someone or something more active, energetic or exciting.


perk up

To make or become more cheerful or lively.


pertain to

To be directly related or applicable to something.


peter out

To diminish or come to an end gradually.


phase … in



phase ... out

To introduce something such as a law, rule, etc. in gradual stages.


To gradually withdraw something from use.


phone in

To telephone someone or a place such as one’s workplace, a radio or television station, police station, etc.


pick at




pick ... off


pick on




pick ... out



pick over


pick through


pick up

To criticize someone in a petty way.

To pull something slightly and repeatedly with one’s fingers.

To eat something taking small bites due to lack of appetite.


To shoot people or animals one by one from a distance.


To repeatedly single out someone for unfair criticism or treatment, e.g. It does appear my teacher’s hobby is picking only on me.


To choose someone or something from a group, e.g. Despite the vast array of dresses on sale, she couldn’t pick out any one she liked.


To examine a number of items and carefully choose some.


To look carefully through a number of items and select one.


To take something from a surface or floor, e.g. to pick up something one has dropped.

To go somewhere and fetch someone; e.g. I’m now on my way to pick up my child from school.

To find something by accident, e.g. to pick up a purse, dropped by someone, from a pavement.

To learn a skill while working, e.g. pick up the skill of baking while working at the bakery.

To collect something form somewhere, e.g. Remind me to pick up my clothes from the laundry on our way home.

To go and buy something, e.g. I just remember I’ve to pick up a magazine at the newsagent.

To acquire a skill, manner, etc., e.g. Since when have you picked up the disgusting habit of picking your nose?

To make an arrest, e.g. He was picked up by the police for attempting to make an illegal entry into a building.

To pay for something, e.g. His girlfriend’s father picked up the tab for the sumptuous dinner.

To improve something, e.g. With an improvement in the economy, sale of consumer goods is expected to pick up.

To try to get someone of the opposite sex, e.g. Jack attended the party hoping to pick up a girl, but ended with none.


piddle around

To spend time doing unnecessary thing.


piece … together

To assemble all the facts or information about a situation in order to form a suitable conclusion.


pig out

To eat a large amount of food greedily.


pile in/into

pile on

pile out

pile up

To get into a place, vehicle, etc. in a disorganized manner.

To exaggerate something

To leave a place, vehicle, etc. in a disorderly manner.

To make or become increasingly larger in quantity or amount.


pin … down

To make someone specific about their aim or plan.


pine for

To miss and long for someone or something.


pipe up

To say something suddenly, especially after having been quiet all along.


piss about/around

piss … away

piss off

piss … off

To spend time doing things aimlessly.

To waste something very stupidly.

To tell someone to go away.

To annoy someone very much, e.g. He really pisses me off when he blows that flute out of tune for hours on end.


pit … away


pit … out

To set something or someone in competition with something or someone else.

To sweat profusely.


pitch in

pitch into

pitch up

To work enthusiastically within a group

To attack someone physically or verbally.

To arrive at a particular place.