Phrasal Verbs


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.


buzz off

be buzzing with

To go away or to tell someone to go away.

To have an air of excitement or purposeful activity.


calculate on

To depend on an essential element in one’s plans to succeed.


call at

call back





call by


call for


call … forth


call in




call ... in





call off



call on/uppm



call up



(Train, coach, etc.) to stop at a station.

To return a telephone call received earlier in one’s absence, e.g. She didn’t leave her number, so I couldn’t call back.

To be asked to return, e.g. I was on leave but my boss called me back for some urgent matter.


To visit someone when you happen to be in the same area.


To appeal or demand publicly for something, especially equal rights.


To evoke a quality so that it can be used.


To telephone a place to inform about something, e.g. A rescue team was called in to reach the trapped miners.

To telephone one’s working place to inform one is sick.


To ask someone to see you for a particular purpose, e.g. The villagers are considering calling the game warden in to deal with the elephants which have been trampling and destroying their crops.


To decide officially that something should be stopped after it has already started, e.g. to call off a football match due to heavy rain.


To pay a brief visit to someone.

To request someone to do something for you.


To select someone to play in the national sports team, e.g. He was called up for the game against Brazil.

To call someone by telephone, e.g. He called me up at midnight to wish me happy new year.

To officially order someone to join the armed services, e.g. He was called up for training for a possible war against a neighbouring country.


calm … down

To make or become tranquil and quiet, e.g. The doctor had to inject her with tranquilizer in order to calm her down.

(Situation) to become less confused or violent, e.g. The sea calmed down when the weather ceased to be windy after a heavy shower.


camp out

To sleep outdoors in a tent.


cancel … out

To neutralize or negate the effect of something so that it remains the same.


capitalize on

To take the chance to gain as much advantage as you can


care for

To look after and provide for the needs of someone who is not able to look after themselves, e.g. His wife has been caring for him since his discharge from the hospital.

To like to have something, e.g. care for a coffee?


(get) carried away

carry … forward



carry … off



carry on











carry ... out






carry over


carry ... over



carry ... through

To lose self-control.

To move figures to the next page in accounts.

To keep something to use or deal with at a later time.


To do something difficult successfully.

To forcibly take someone away.


To continue an activity or task despite the difficulty, e.g. She finds it hard to accept the fact that her husband has left her for another woman, but she still managed to carry on with her life

To continue moving in the same direction, e.g. It’s of great urgency that they carry straight on the highway to reach their destination by tonight.

To behave in an overemotional way, e.g. She carried on complaining in a bad-tempered way despite her spouse’s apologies and his insistence that he didn’t mean what she thought he meant.

To be engaged in a love affair with someone.


To perform a planned operation or a task that needs to be done, e.g. They carried out his instructions to draw up plans for the next phase.

To move or transport someone or something from one place to another, e.g. They carried the injured player out of the playing area.


To extend beyond the normal or original area of application.


To be used or dealt with in a new context;

To bring something forward; postpone.


To complete something successfully.


cart … off

To take someone or something away.


carve … out


carve ... up

To develop a career, reputation, etc. through painstaking effort.

To divide up something ruthlessly into separate parts for sharing.

To recklessly overtake another driver.


cash in

cash … in



cash up

To take advantage of or exploit a situation.

To convert an insurance policy, savings account, etc. into money; to take advantage of or exploit a situation.


To total up the day’s takings received in a shop for checking.


cast about

cast aside



be cast away


be cast down


cast off/cast ... off





cast on



cast ... out


cast ... up

To search far and wide.

To get rid of something or someone whom you no longer like or who are of no more use.


To be stranded after a shipwreck.


To feel depressed.


To get rid of something or someone.

To free a boat or ship from its moorings.

To take the last stitches off the needle in knitting.

To let loose a hunting hound or hawk.


To make the first row of a specified number of loops on the needle.


To force something or someone to go away, e.g. an exorcist who casts out demons.


To bring something (by the sea) onto the shore.


catch at

catch on





catch … out




catch up






catch up with

To try to take hold of something.

(A practice or fashion) to become popular, e.g. A style may catch on in some countries or areas, but not in others.

To begin to understand something, e.g. When one understands something better, it is easier to catch on.


To discover that someone is lying or has done something wrong.

To put someone in a difficult position because they are not ready to deal with it.


To improve so much that you are now on a par with other people in your class, group, etc., e.g. After a long absence from class due to illness, he finds it hard to catch up.

To do what needs to be done because you have not done it earlier.


To meet up with someone whom one has not seen for some time.

To finally find someone who has done something wrong and on the run.


cater for/to

cater to

To provide with what is needed or required.

To satisfy a need or demand.


cave in

To fall inwards or collapse; to give in.


centre around

centre in

centre on/upon

To have something as a major concern or interest.

To occur mainly in or around something.

To pay more attention on someone or something more than on someone or something else.


chalk … up

To succeed in getting something, e.g. points in a game; to record something.


chance on/upon

To find something or meet someone by accident or unexpectedly.


change around

change down/up

change into

To shift things from one position to another.

To engage a lower/higher gear in a vehicle.

To become something different.


chase up

To tell someone do something more quickly because it has been taking too long.


chat … up

To talk to someone in a way that demonstrates sexual attraction.


cheat on

To be unfaithful to one’s spouse by secretly engaging in sexual activities with someone else, e.g. Jill threw Jack out of her house after she discovered Jack cheating on her.

To act dishonestly to gain a personal advantage, e.g. He was suspended from the exam after he was caught cheating on it.


check in

check … in



check into


check ... off


check on



check out








check ... out



check ... over



check up on


check on

To arrive and register at a hotel or airport.

To return a book to a library; to have one’s baggage weighed.


To register one’s arrival at a hotel.


To mark an item on a list to show that it has been dealt with.


To monitor and make sure something is accurate or properly done, or that someone is safe and well.


To find out the truth of something, e.g. We checked out a couple of restaurants and confirm their services are reasonably good and prices reasonable.

To settle one’s hotel bill and leave, e.g. We check out before noon.

To pay for one’s items to the cashier, e.g. I decided not to buy my one item because of the long queues waiting to check out.


To find out if someone or something is suitable for a particular purpose, e.g. They routinely checked applicants out before accepting them.


To examine or look closely at someone or something to ensure they are acceptable.


To ascertain the suitability, accuracy or truth of someone or something.


To ensure that someone or something is safe and well.


cheer up

cheer … up

cheer … on

To become or make someone less unhappy.

To make or become less miserable.

To shout encouragement in support of a person or team in a race or competition.


chew on

chew out



chew... over


chew ... up

To think about something carefully for a long time.

To express strong disapproval to someone of what they have done.


To consider carefully about something for a period of time.


To bite repeatedly on something, especially to facilitate swallowing.



chicken out

To be too scared to do something, e.g. He was invited to speak at the annual dinner, but he chickened out.


chill out

To calm down and relax completely.


chip … away

chip away at



chip in



chip ... off

To remove something little by little,.

To gradually and relentlessly make something smaller, weaker or less effective.


To interrupt a conversation to add in more information or detail; to contribute one’s share in a group.


To remove something in small pieces, e.g. chipping old paint off the door.


choke … back

choke … down

choke off



choke up

To suppress one’s emotions, e.g. choke back the tears.

To eat with difficulty.

To prevent someone from doing something or stop something happening.


To be very unhappy or worried about something.


chop … down

chop … off

chop … up

To fell a tree by cutting it.

To separate something from another by cutting it.

To cut into small pieces, e.g. They chop up some firewood to make a fire.


chow down

To eat.


chuck away/out

chuck … in

chuck … out



chuck up

To throw something away.

To give up or stop doing something, e.g. chuck one’s job in.

To expel someone from a place, e.g. got chucked out of the club.


To vomit.



churn out


churn up

churn ... up

To produce something in large quantities without caring about quality.

To damage the surface of something.

To make someone upset, nervous or angry.


clam up

To suddenly stop talking because of some reason.


clamp down

To take firm action to prevent something happening.


claw at



claw ... back

To scratch or tear at someone or something with the claws or fingernails.


To gradually regain something by working very hard.


clean … out







clean up

To make a place tidy and free from dirt, e.g. We cleaned our new house out thoroughly before we moved in.

To steal all the contents from a place, e.g. Burglars completely cleaned our glass cases out of all the antique jewellery.

To cause someone to spend all their money, e.g. My medical bill really cleaned me out.


To take all of someone’s money or possessions.

To make something completely clean and tidy.

To make a substantial gain or profit.


clear away



clear off


clear out



clear … out



clear up



clear ... up

To make a place look tidy by removing remains of a meal from the table or putting things back where they belong.


To go away quickly from a place.


To leave a place quickly, e.g. Police cleared people out of the cinema after receiving a call that a bomb had been planted inside.


To tidy a place by disposing of something, e.g. We haven’t cleared the storeroom out for ages.


(Something) to get better or disappear, e.g. when weather clears up, it gets better or if an illness clears up, it disappears.


To make a place tidy by removing unwanted items, e.g. The child has been warned repeatedly to clear his toys up after his father stepped on one and broke it into pieces.

To explain something that is hard to understand, e.g. Most find the instructions difficult to understand, but further explanations cleared everything up.

To cure something such as an infection, etc., e.g. The regular intake of medicine has cleared my sore throat up.

(Weather) to become clear, e.g. The sky had been full of dark clouds since morning, but by afternoon it cleared up,


cleave to

To still regard a belief, etc. as true when it is not.


click on

To begin a computer operation by pressing on the computer mouse button.


climb down

To make an ignominious withdrawal from a position taken up.


cling to

To hold tightly to a belief, idea, etc.


clock in/out


clock up


To record on a special card using an automatic recording clock one’s time of arrival at or departure from work.

To reach a particular number or amount, especially the number of flight hours a pilot has attained to date.


clog up

To be become blocked, e.g. The drain was so clogged up that water and material inside flows over its edges.


close down



close in



close off



close up

To stop broadcasting (television station at the end of the day), or doing business permanently (shop, company, etc.)


To move closer to someone or something, e.g. the police close in to make an arrest or a pack of wolves closing in to kill their prey.


To close a place for a specified reason, e.g. a road is closed off for repair.


To be closed to the public temporarily, e.g. a building closes up for a particular reason.


cloud over

(Sky) to become full of clouds or black clouds.


club together

To share the cost of something by combining with others to collect a sum of money.


clue … in

To inform someone about something.


clump together

To form a group or solid mass.


clutch at

To seize something eagerly or in desperation, especially at an idea or when one is in a dangerous situation.


cobble … together

To quickly make or assemble something that is useful but not perfect, e.g. cobbled together a ceasefire agreement; cobbled together a tent from some pieces of strings and a big sheet.


cock … up

To spoil or ruin something.


comb … out





comb through

To search for pieces of information, e.g. Policemen comb out the entire area looking for evidence.

To make hair straight and smooth by combing; to exclude unwanted members from a group.


To search through a wide area or a lot of objects for information, e.g. policemen comb through the field looking for the murder weapon.


come about




come across




come after



come along




come apart




come around




come at


come away




come back








come before



come between



come by


come down 



come down on 



come down to





come down with




come for



comb forward


come from





come in








come in for



come into 


come of




come off





come on/upon















come on to




come out










come out in







come out with



come over









come round








come through









come to






come under





come up













come up against



come up with

To happen, e.g. How does it come about that he was once my good friend, but now ignores me completely?

(Ship) to change direction.


To meet or find by accident or by chance, e.g. While making a boat trip up the river, we came across a hippopotamus.

To exude an emotion or quality, e.g. He comes across as being boastful.


To go in search of someone, e.g. the police are coming after him for having involved in a robbery.


To follow someone, e.g. I will come along with you.

To want to go with someone, e.g. “Can I come along with you?”


To break or separate into pieces or parts, e.g. They forgot to staple my papers and when the wind blew them off my hand, they came apart and flew in different directions.


To make a visit to someone, e.g. You can come around in the evening;

To regain consciousness, e.g. He came around three hours after the accident.


To approach someone in a threatening manner.


To be left with a specified feeling, e.g. He came away feeling satisfied. To become separated from something, e.g. The lens came away from the spectacle.


To reply in a quick and forceful way, e.g. “I am not coming back!”

To return to where one comes from, e.g. Some of the tourists vowed to come back to this beautiful resort in the near future.

(Physical condition) to recur, e.g. He could hardly sleep at night as his backache has come back.

To become popular again, e.g. Rumour has it that bell-bottoms will come back in the next season.


To appear before a person or group in authority, e.g. He feels nervous when he comes before the judge.


To avoid something from disturbing, e.g. I do not allow anything to come between my study and me.


To obtain something that is hard to get, e.g. I haven’t found a job which is hard to come by these days.


To get lower, e.g. Prices once go up, hardly come down.


To punish or criticize someone severely, e.g. The police have pledged to come down hard on those who park their cars illegally.


To amount to, e.g. Getting along with people comes down to having a give-and-take attitude.

To get from higher to lower level or from North to South, e.g. He is unable to come down to stay with his parents this Christmas due to some personal problems.


To become afflicted with an illness, e.g. The weather has caused many residents in the area to come down with influenza.


To arrive to collect someone or something, e.g. I’ve come for my books which I left behind this morning.


To volunteer oneself for something such as to be a vigilante, etc.


To be from a place where one was born or is/was living.

To be a source from which something originates.


To arrive, e.g. The ten o’clock train came in ten minutes earlier.

To enter, e.g. As soon as they arrived they came straight in.

To attain a particular position, e.g. She came in first in the race this morning.

(Tide) to rise, e.g. Let’s go to the beach, the tide is coming in.

To be available when needed, e.g. The tool kit has come in handy before, let’s not forget it.


To receive a reaction such as criticism, etc., e.g. The head of police comes in for some criticism for the way the police conducted the investigation.


To inherit money or property.


To result from something, e.g. The police combed the entire area but nothing came of their attempts to find the murder weapon.


To separate oneself or itself from something, e.g. The sole came off one of my shoes.

To produce a good or bad result, e.g. The trip didn’t come off the way we expected.


(Something) to take place or happen, e.g. The whole city has been plunged into darkness and the residents are still waiting for the light to come on.

To meet or discover someone or something by chance, e.g. We came upon a couple of our former classmates whom we have not seen for a long time.

To begin a television or radio program, e.g. What time does that television documentary come on? I want to watch it.

To feel an illness, etc. happening, e.g. I can feel a sore throat coming on as my throat is getting itchier by the minute.

To use it to encourage or correct someone, to hurry them up or tell them not to lie, e.g. Come on, you can do better than that. / Come on, surely you don’t believe the Earth is flat. / Come on, the train is not going to wait for you. / Come on, don’t bullshit.

To enquire one’s position, well-being, progress, etc. e.g. How is your journalism course coming on?


To make sexual advances towards someone, e.g. Jack always comes on to Jill whenever he sees her, and Jill deeply resents it.


To leave a place such as a house, room, etc., e.g. She came out of the room and surprised everyone who thought she had gone out.

(Facts, information, etc.) to become known to the public, e.g. When the report came out, many were surprised that it laid the blame on the engineer for the collapse of the bridge.

To make something such as a book, musical recording, movie, etc. available to the public, e.g. A paperback edition of the book will come out at the end of this month.

To remove dirt and stains, e.g. Stains on his shirt easily came out when he used some detergent.


To attain a placing in an examination.

To say publicly one is for or against something, e.g. More and more people have come out in support of the ban on smoking in restaurants.

(Sun, moon, stars, planets, etc.) to make their appearance in the sky.

(Skin) to break out in spots, rash, etc.


To suddenly or unexpectedly pass a rude comment.


To make a visit to someone’s house, e.g. They usually come over to granny’s house on weekend.

(Someone) to move to where I am from where they are, e.g. Almost every weekend he comes over to my place and we go out together.

To suddenly experience a strong feeling, e.g. I have this strange feeling coming over me that violent argument will erupt in the meeting tomorrow.

To migrate from another country, e.g. Their grandparents came over from the East.


To visit someone, e.g. They regularly come round to a neighbour’s house for a game of cards.

(Event) to recur, e.g. New Year’s day is coming round again.

To change one’s point of view and become agreeable to something.

To regain consciousness, e.g. He coughs slightly, and the others are delighted he is coming round.


(News, information, etc.) to become known, e.g. News of the snowstorm comes through regularly and people expect the worst as they tune in to it.

To live through a dangerous situation, e.g. The bus he was traveling in swerved into a ravine killing some passengers but he came through completely unscathed.

To be waiting to receive an important document, approval, etc., e.g. The big cheque we have been waiting for has finally come through.


To regain consciousness, e.g. He came to hours after he was admitted to the hospital.

To reach a total amount, e.g. The total of these items comes to $60.60.

To have an idea, thought, etc., e.g. The idea came to me when I was in the shower.


To be attacked or shot at, e.g. As soon as the group of commandos landed on the beach, they came under attack from enemy fire.

To fall within a particular article, section of the law, etc., e.g. the offence comes under Section 34(B) of the penal code.


To approach someone, e.g. A stranger came up to me and asked for the time.

To draw near, e.g. The annual fun fair is coming up soon.

(Sun, moon, etc.) To rise, e.g. The sun was coming up by the time I woke up.

To move northward, e.g. They come up all the way to Alaska to visit me.

To move up the social ladder, e.g. He has really come up from his early days as an office clerk to his present position as marketing director.

(Something such as a problem, difficulty, etc.) to happen suddenly, e.g. He couldn’t attend the long-awaited annual dinner because something important has suddenly come up.


To cope with opposition, difficulty, problems, etc., e.g. Their chances of winning the next round are not good, having to come up against such a strong opponent.


To produce idea, suggestion, answer, etc., e.g. He was the only one who could come up with all the correct answers to the questions.



complain of

To express that one is suffering physically or from an illness.


con … into




con ... out

To trick or deceive someone into doing something, e.g. He was conned into paying excessively for a watch which was a cheap imitation.


To deceive someone to give one something, e.g. He conned a number of old people out of large sums of money.


concentrate on

To focus all your attention on something.


condole with

To express sympathy for someone.


conduce to

To help to produce a particular quality or state.


cone … off

To close part of a road by using traffic cones.


confide in


confide ... to

To tell someone about a personal secret or private matter in confidence.

To entrust something to the care of someone.


conjure … up

To bring an image to one’s mind.

To call upon a spirit to appear by means of a magic ritual.


conk out

(Car, macine, etc.) to break down.


connect … up

To join something to something else, e.g. the telephone is connected to the telephone network.


consist  in

consist of

To be based on or depend on something.

To be composed of.


contend for

contend with

To engage in a struggle or campaign to achieve something.

To deal with difficulties or an unpleasant situation.


contract in

contract out

contract … out

To choose to be involved in.

To choose not to take part in something.

To arrange for work to be done by a person or company outside your own organization.


cook … up

To prepare a quick meal; to invent a clever or devious story or excuse.


cool down

cool off

To become cool or cooler.

To return to normal temperature after being hot, e.g. It usually cools off in the evening.

To make someone or something cooler, e.g. He had a cold shower to cool off his body.

To become calm after being angry, e.g. His temper should have cooled off by now.


coop … up

To confine someone in a small space.


cop off

cop out

cop to

To meet and start a sexual relationship with someone.

To avoid doing something that one is supposed to do.

To accept or admit to something.


copy … out

To write exactly the same thing as it is written somewhere else.


cordon … off

To seal off an area to prevent access to it by the public.


cotton on

cotton to

To begin to understand.

To begin to like or have a liking for someone or something.


cough up

To give something, especially money, unwillingly.


count … as



count down


count ... in/out


count on/upon




count ... out




count ... up

To consider or regard someone or something in a particular way.


To record the time passing until an important event happens.


To include/not include someone in a planned activity.


To depend on someone or something, e.g. He is counting on his secretary to prepare a good acceptance speech for him.


To count up to ten seconds when a boxer is knocked down to conclude defeat.

To put in or take out items one by one as you count them for recording.


To determine the total of something or someone.



couple with

To combine to produce a particular result


cover for

cover oneself

cover up






cover ... up

To temporarily take over the duties or role of someone.

To take precautions against future blame or liability.

To hide or protect something by putting something on top of it, e.g. Look at the fly on the buns, why are they not covered up?

To prevent a wrongful act or crime from being known by denying or hiding the evidence, e.g. The whole affair was covered up to protect certain important people.


To wear thick clothing or use blanket to keep warm, e.g. I need to buy an electric blanket to cover me up in this cold weather.


crack down on



crack on


crack up

To take stricter measures to deal with certain problems,  e.g. The local authority have decided to crack down hard on illegal parking.


To work incessantly in order to complete a job.


To burst or cause someone to burst into laughter.

To become mentally disturbed.


crank … out

crank … up

To produce something regularly and routinely.

To increase the intensity of something.


cream … off

To choose and take away the best people or things from a group.


crease up

To burst or make someone burst out laughing.


creep up on

To surprise someone by appearing behind them suddenly.

To seem to come sooner than expected, especially an anniversary.

(A feeling for someone, idea, etc.) to gradually increase when it creeps on you.


crop out

crop up

(Rock) to appear or be exposed at the surface of the earth.

To appear or occur suddenly and unexpectedly.


cross … off



corss ... out

To delete an item on a list, e.g. Jill crossed a wrong item off the shopping list and ended up short of one vital ingredient.


To delete a word, etc. by drawing a line through it.


crowd … out

To take the place of someone or something by forcing them out.


crush up

To squeeze with others into a small space


cry off

cry out

To break a promise to do something.

To shout out in pain or of fear.


cuddle up

To lie or sit very close to someone or something.


culminate in

To reach a climax or the highest point of development.


curl up

To sit or lie with arms and legs bent close to body.


cuss … out

To swear and shout at someone out of anger.


cut across



cut away



cut back






cut down










cut in




cut ... in


cut off/cut ... off















cut out/cut ... out









cut up

To take the shortest way, e.g. If we cut across this terrain we’ll arrive there before dusk.


To remove what is irrelevant or unnecessary, e.g. Just cut away all those unnecessary details and come to the point will you?


To reduce on something such as money, time, etc., e.g. We have to cut back on the number of days we are away on holiday as it is getting more expensive.

To do or use something less, e.g. Jack was advised to cut back the number of hours he spends at the gym and concentrate more on his study.


To reduce one’s consumption of something.

To bring down a tree, etc. by cutting, e.g. It should be made compulsory to acquire an official permit to cut down a tree.

To kill or injure someone with a sword or gun.

To shorten the length of something such as a piece of writing, etc.

To reduce the importance of someone, e.g. Jack is a self-important, pompous little man; let’s think of a way to cut him down to size.


To suddenly drive too closely into the space in front of another vehicle.

To interrupt someone who is speaking.


To include someone in a deal with share of the profits.


To block access to a place, e.g. Heavy snowfall has cut off access to many areas in the countryside.

To stop supply of something such as electricity, water, etc., e.g. The electricity supply company has sent me a warning to pay within a week, failing which my electricity will be cut off.

To abruptly disconnect a telephone call.

To separate a piece from the main part by cutting, e.g. She cut off a piece of cake for her guest.

To disinherit someone, e.g. My parents threatened to cut me off their will unless I go to college.

To stop having a good relationship with someone due to some reason, e.g. After she recovered from a severe nervous breakdown, she cut herself off from her circle of close friends.

To rudely interrupt someone, e.g. I was relating a story to friends when he came in and cut me off.


To remove something or someone, e.g. The editor cut out an offending remark in a piece of news report. / The parents decided to cut him out of their will.

To remain healthy, e.g. He cuts sugary snacks and fizzy drink out of his list of items for consumption

To remove something by cutting, e.g. He’s always cutting out articles from newspapers to assist in his writing course.

(Engine) to suddenly stop working, e.g. The engine of my car suddenly cut out when I stopped at the traffic lights.


To cut something into smaller pieces, e.g. Jill is cutting an apple up to feed her birds.

To sustain multiple injuries in a road accident.

To behave in an unruly manner.



dally with

To think but not seriously about something.

To be involved in a casual romantic or sexual relationship with someone.


damp … up

To dam a river, etc.


damp … down

To make a fire burn less strongly.

To control or reduce something such as a feeling.


dash off

dash … off

To leave very quickly.

To write something hurriedly and without much thought.


date from/back to

To have existed since a particular time.


dawn on

To realize something for the first time.