Phrasal Verbs


help out


help … out

To assist someone in their work, e.g. On weekends, the husband helps out in the kitchen.

To support someone who has problems, e.g. Jack is an tiger trainer and he needs an assistance, but nobody dares to help out.


hem … in

To surround and restrict the space or movement of someone or something.


hike … up

To pull or lift up clothing, e.g. She hiked up her skirt to climb the ladder.


hinge on/upon

To depend entirely on someone or something.


hire … out

To allow the temporary use of something in exchange for payment.


hit back

hit on


hit out


To retaliate in kind.

To think of a good idea.

To discover something by chance.

To strike at someone.

To express strong disapproval of something or someone.


hitch … up

To lift or roll up one’s clothing, e.g. to hitch up one’s trousers.

To harness a draught animal.


hive … off

To separate something from a large group, such as to sell a company in a conglomerate.


hold … against




hold back


hold ... down



hold forth


hold off




hold ... off




hold on



hold on to





hold out







hold out for


hold out on



hold up


hold ... up





hold with

To continue to blame and dislike someone, e.g. Despite the years that have passed, Jack still holds it against Jill for something she did that caused him embarrassment.


To stop oneself from doing something or expressing an emotion.


To succeed in retaining one’s job.

To keep prices from rising.


To talk at length on a subject.


To postpone doing something, e.g. They hold off renovating the house until next year when they can better afford to pay for it.


(Bad weather) to fail to occur.

To ward off someone or something from harming or affecting one, e.g. They are planning a way to hold the enemy off while looking for an escape route.


To wait for a short time, e.g. Would you like to hold on or call back? She’s in the toilet.


To persist in doing something despite the difficulty encountered, e.g. They managed to hold on to a piece of debris until help arrived.

To grasp something firmly, e.g. She held tightly on to the rail as she climbed the stairs.


To extend one’s hand, e.g. We have not met for a long time and when I hold out my hand, he grabs it tight.

To make something such as money, etc. last, e.g. I’m spending less, so it holds out until my next payday.

To resist something such as attack, pressure, temptation, etc., e.g. They were under siege but managed to hold out until reinforcements arrived.


To be not prepared to receive less than what is demanded.


To refuse to provide someone with information, an answer, etc. that is needed.


To continue to remain strong, valid, etc.


To delay the progress of someone or something, e.g. work is held up by workers’ strike.

To commit a robbery, e.g. A couple of men succeeded in holding a bank up by using toy guns.


To adopt someone or something as a role model or example.

To approve or agree with something, e.g. Most parents do not hold with using the cane in school.


hole up

To hide oneself, especially from the law.


hollow … out

To remove the inside part of something.


home in on

To aim at something and move directly towards it with a purpose, e.g. to identify a problem and home in to resolving it.


hook … up

hook up with

To connect an electronic equipment to an electricity supply.

To get acquainted with someone and become friendly with them.


horn in

To interrupt without invitation or necessity.


horse around/about

To fool around or about.


hose … down

To wash something or someone using a hose.


hot up

To become more active, exciting, or dangerous.


howl … down

To prevent someone or something from being heard by shouting loudly and angrily.


hunt … down

To search diligently for and capture or kill someone or an animal


Hurry up/hurry … up



To make someone or something move, act, finish or happen more quickly, e.g. If we don’t hurry up, we are going to be the last ones in the long queue. / We hurried the waiter up as we had waited almost half an hour.


hush … up

To prevent something from being expressed publicly, especially about something dishonest or immoral.


hype … up

To promote or publicize someone or something in a exaggerated way.


ice … down

ice over/up

To cover injury with ice to prevent swelling.

To become covered or blocked with ice.


identify with

To feel oneself as having the same characteristics, thinking or feelings as someone else.


idle … away

To spend time doing nothing.


imbue … with

To make someone fill with an emotion or quality.


impinge on/upon

To have an effect on someone or something.


improve on/upon

To make or do something better than before.


impute … to

To regard something, especially something bad, as being caused by someone else.


inform against/on

To give vital information about someone to the police, enemy, etc.


infringe on/upon

To intrude on someone’s freedom or rights.


ink … in

To write or mark something with ink.


inquire after

inquire into

inquire … of

To ask someone about their health, well-being, etc.

To investigate about something or someone.

To ask someone about someone else or something.


insist on

To firmly continue doing something.


interfere with

To prevent something from succeeding or continuing in the way that was planned.

To sexually molest, especially a child.


inure … to

To make someone accustomed to something, especially something unpleasant so that they are used to it.


invalid …out

To leave the armed services or to remove someone from active military service because of injury or illness.


inveigh against

To speak or write about someone or something with great hostility or criticism.


inveigle … into

To persuade someone to do something, especially by deceit or flattery.


invest in


invest … with

To buy a financial product with a view of making a profit.

To buy something useful, e.g. a grey winter suit.

To endow someone with power or authority to perform a duty or with a particular quality or character.


invite … along



invite ... back

invite ... in

invite ... over

To ask someone to come along to some place such as a cinema, etc.


To ask someone to come to one’s house, etc.

To ask someone to come into one’s house, office, etc.

To ask someone to come over to one’s house, for dinner, etc.


iron … out

To resolve a problem.

To remove folds from clothes by ironing them.


issue forth



issue from

(Sound, etc.) to emanate or come out from something or a place.


(Smoke, etc.) to emit or come out from somewhere.


jack around



jack ... in

jack off

jack up


jack ... up

To waste someone’s time by causing inconvenience or problems.


To stop doing something.

To masturbate.

To inject oneself with a narcotic drug.

To refuse to participate.

To raise something, e.g. to jack a car up in order to change its wheels.

To increase something considerably such as prices, sales, etc.


jazz … up

To make something more interesting or exciting.


jerk … around

jerk off

jerk out

To deal with someone dishonestly or unfairly.

To masturbate.

To utter something in a quick and unsteady manner.


jib at

To become unwilling to do or accept something.


jibe at

To make an insulting or mocking remark.


jog along

To continue in the same steady way.


join in

join up

join up with

join with

To take part in an activity.

To become a member of the armed services.

To form a group with other people in order to do something.

To do or say something together, e.g. to join with fellow church members say prayers.


jolly … along

jolly … up

To encourage someone to do something faster.

To make someone or something more lively and cheerful.


jot … down

To write something quickly.


joy in

To have a feeling of great pleasure and happiness.


juice … up

To make something more interesting or exciting.


jump at

jump in

jump on

To eagerly accept the chance to do something.

To join a conversation suddenly by interrupting.

To criticize or attack someone, usually unfairly.


keel over

(Boat, ship) to turn over on its side; to fall over sideways.


keep at


keep … at

keep away






keep back



keep ... back


keep ... down



keep from




keep ... from




keep ... in




keep in with



keep off





keep on





keep on about



keep on at


keep ... on



keep out




keep out of



keep to















keep up

To continue a course of action, e.g. We kept at it until we completely fitted together all the pieces of a jigsaw.

To force someone to continue a course of action.

To make someone or something avoid going somewhere or seeing someone else, e.g. We keep away from this guy who often gets drunk and swears.

To keep someone or something away from someone or something else, e.g. Gun owners should ensure they keep away their guns beyond the reach of their children.


To refrain from telling someone what you know, e.g. He keeps back when asked how he sustained a black eye.


To withhold paying or giving something to someone.


To stop something from increasing, e.g. The producer is increasing the supply of its products in order to keep their prices down.


To refrain from sharing information with someone, e.g. He knows he cannot keep the incident from his family for very long.


To prevent someone from doing something or something from happening, e.g. We just could not keep ourselves from buying those big, juicy looking apples.

To protect someone from possible danger or a mishap.


To make someone stay indoors, e.g. His parents keep him in most of the time to prevent him from mixing with those bad neighbours’ kids..


To remain on friendly terms with someone, especially because this is very advantageous.


To protect something from some other things, e.g. putting things in container to keep vermin off.

To make someone stay away from something or someone else, e.g. The doctor advised the parents to keep her off sugary stuff.


To continue doing something, e.g. He keeps on complaining about his parents to me.

To retain someone in employment, e.g. He has attained retirement age but the company keeps him on because of his immense experience.


To talk constantly about something, especially about one’s personal problems.


To bother someone with repeated requests.


To retain someone or something such as to continue to employ someone, etc., e.g. He is still kept on the company payroll despite having reached retirement age.


To usually appear on signboard warning people to stay away from a place, e.g. A signboard warns passersby to keep out as construction work is still in progress.


To refrain from getting involved in something, e.g. We often discuss current issues but keep out of sensitive ones.


To keep to a particular place, e.g. If motorists keep to their lanes as much as possible when driving, the number of accidents might be reduced.

To observe an agreement and do what one promises to do, e.g. I have not been keeping to my work schedule and now my work is piling up .

To keep something secret, especially something that has been confided in one, e.g. No matter how hard she tries, she just cannot keep anything to herself.

To keep to the topic one is talking, writing or discussing about which one is supposed to.

To confine or restrict oneself to a particular place, e.g. The nurses tell him to keep to his ward where he is a patient instead of wandering into other wards to chat.

To maintain something at a certain level, e.g. They have been reminded again to keep their spending to within the amount allowed in the budget.


To continue to maintain one’s good performance, e.g. to keep up the good work.

To keep abreast of current affairs by reading and learning, e.g. to keep up with the development in the field of medicine.

To move or progress at about the same rate as someone or something else, e.g. Some of them were not able to keep up with others in their class in school that led to their dropout.

To acquire about the same possessions as those of friends and neighbours, e.g. She tries to keep up her extravagant lifestyle by incurring huge debts through heavy use of her credit cards.

To prevent someone from going to bed, e.g. to drink strong coffee to keep one up the whole night.

To maintain something at a high level, e.g. The suppliers of a product conspire to manipulate its supply in order to keep up the price.


key … in

To enter or work on data by using a computer keyboard.


kick against


kick around/about






kick ... around 




kick back



kick in 



kick ... in






kick off





kick ... out

To express disagreement or frustration with someone or react strongly against something;

To travel from place to place wander with no explicit aim, e.g. He has been kicking around the coastal area for the past year.

(Place or thing) awaits exploration and exploitation, e.g. Some of the things we need for this project could be kicking around in the attic.


To treat someone badly, unfairly and without respect, e.g. He never seems to kick his workers around.

To discuss an idea with other people casually, e.g. We could kick around the possibility of migrating.


To be at leisure or relaxing, e.g. He decides to kick back the whole day and call  in sick.


To have an effect, e.g. to begin to feel the pain of the wound kicking in.


To injure someone, e.g. He was sent off for deliberately kicking the other player’s ankle in.

To gain access, e.g. The neighbours had to kick the door in to rescue a child from the fire.

To contribute money, help, etc., e.g. The villagers are all willing to kick in and help with the building of a new bridge.


To start off a football match, e.g. They decide that the match should not kick off this afternoon due to adverse weather conditions.

To remove one’s shoes by shaking the feet, e.g. He habitually kicks off his shoes on arriving home.


To expel or dismiss someone, e.g. got kicked out of the house or kicked out of the club.


kid around

To behave in a silly way.


kill … off

To kill a lot of lives, e.g. the discharge of chemicals into the river has killed off a variety of fish species.


kiss up to

To be excessively obedient or attentive to someone for a selfish reason.


kit … out

To provide someone with the appropriate clothing and equipment for an activity.


knock around/about







knock ... back





knock ... down







knock off



knock ... off














knock ... out







knock over



knock ... together



knock ... up

To travel, especially without a specific purpose, e.g. He intends to knock around a few countries before he gets married.

To hit someone, e.g. He used to get knocked around when he was staying with his drinking father.

To be present at a particular place, e.g. There is a hammer knocking about in the attic but I just couldn’t find it.


To drink heavily and quickly, He can easily knock back five bottles when he has the mood.

To spend on costly things, e.g. The air fare has knocked her back by some four hundred pounds, but it was worth it.


To hurt or kill someone by hitting them accidentally with a car, e.g. He was knocked down by a car as he was dashing across a road.

To reduce substantially the price of something, e.g. Sale has been poor so the seller knocks down some of the prices by as much as half.

To destroy something and replace it with something better, e.g. They knock down the garage to build a bigger one.


To finish the day’s work, e.g. He does not knock off at the same time every day.


To kill someone, e.g. Pictures of him with a reward for information leading to his capture are all over the country after he knocked off the police chief.

To have sex with someone.

To deduct points from the total, e.g. Each contestant will have one point knocked off for each wrong answer.

To reduce prices.

To accidentally or deliberately strike something onto the ground from a surface, e.g. My arm knocked a glass ashtray off the table and broke it into pieces.

To tell someone to stop bothering one, e.g. He yelled out, “Knock it off” at someone in a crowded place.

To produce something quickly, e.g. She knocked off a couple of poems for the school magazine.


To eliminate contestants, e.g. He was knocked out early in the contest. To lose a boxing match, e.g. He was knocked out by the opponent’s left hook.

To make someone unconscious, e.g. A brick fell on the head of a passerby and knocked him out.

To destroy something, e.g. Aerial attacks have knock out their ammunition factory.


To hit someone or something with a car, e.g. The dog was knocked over when it was running across the street.


To combine or assemble something from whatever one has, e.g. He knocked together a dinner from last night’s leftovers.


To awaken someone by knocking at their door, e.g. Every morning she has to knock him up for work.

To make something hurriedly, e.g. They got together and knocked up a big kite for a kite flying contest the next day.


know about



know of 

To be aware of, e.g. There are still many things in this world we don’t really know much about, such as whether or not Nessie exists, the Bermuda Triangle, UFOs, etc.


To be aware of something but lack knowledge concerning it.


knuckle down

knuckle under

To devote oneself diligently to a task.

To unwillingly submit to someone’s authority or orders.


ladle … out

To distribute something in large amounts such as advice, praise, compliments, etc.


land … in

land on

land up


land up with

land … with

To cause someone to be in a difficult situation;

To speak angrily to someone

To finally reach one’s desired place, position, destination, etc. despite the difficulties.

To end up with an unpleasant or unwelcome situation.

To assign someone with an unpleasant task.


lap … up

To accept something with considerable pleasure and enjoyment


lapse into

To pass gradually into a different, often worse, state or condition.


lark about/around

To have fun by behaving in a playful way.


lash out

To attack someone verbally, e.g. He lashed out at his critics for their derogatory remarks.

(Animals) to react violently using, typically their paws, or other parts of its body such as their mouths, tails, etc.


latch on


latch onto

To understand the meaning of something, e.g. It wasn’t easy for him but finally he managed to latch on.

To have full affection for someone and aim to be their steady companion, e.g. He has been looking for a long time for an attractive lady whom he can latch onto.

To develop a keen interest in something.


laugh at

laugh … off

To ridicule someone or something.

To treat something as unworthy of serious consideration, e.g. All his friends have been trying to convince him that he is putting on a lot of weight, but he just laughs it off.


launch into


launch out

To start something with great energy and interest, or criticism of someone or something.

To undertake something new and risky on one’s own such as a business enterprise.


lay about

lay … aside






lay ... down






lay ... in


lay into



lay off











lay ... on





lay ... out








lay over


lay to


lay ... up

To attack someone violently.

To put something away for future use, e.g. He has been laying a small sum of money aside in his savings account to meet future needs.

To defer doing something, e.g. The developer has decided to lay aside a major construction project until the economy improves.


To put down weapons, tools, etc., e.g. The gang members were ordered to lay down their weapons and surrender to the police.

To introduce a regulation, law, etc., e.g. The local authority laid down a by-law against owners letting their dogs loose in the streets.


To store a large supply of something for future use.


To attack someone physically or verbally, e.g. She would lay into her partner whenever she feels she is provoked.


To discharge workers from employment, either for a temporary period or permanently due to shortage of work, e.g. My brother was one of those who were laid off during the recent recession.

To give up something, e.g. He just couldn’t lay off betting no matter how hard he tries.

To stop doing, having, or using something, e.g. I advised her to lay off eating excessively as she is putting on weight by the minute.

To stop bothering someone, e.g. You have been annoying me and if you don’t lay off, I’m going to thump you hard on the head.


To provide service such as food, entertainment, etc.

To entrust someone with a responsibility to tackle a problem, task, etc., e.g. They think he was the best man to lay the responsibility on to organize the weekend jumble sale.


To spread something out such as a map, carpet, etc.

To arrange or plan the construction of something such as a building, garden, town, etc.

To spend a large sum of money for a particular purpose, e.g. Together, they laid out a vast sum for interior decoration of their house.

To prepare a dead body for burial.

To knock someone unconscious.


To sojourn somewhere before resuming one’s journey.


(Ship) to stop moving.


To be unable to do anything due to illness or injury.

To take a ship, vehicle, etc. out of service.


lead into


lead off


lead to





lead up to

(Something) to happen and then followed by another as there is a close connection between them.

To connect directly to another place, e.g. The corridor leads off to the backyard.

To be a route or means of access to a particular place, e.g. This road leads to the park.

To be the result of an action, e.g. The Police offer a reward for any information leading to the arrest of the wanted man.


(Events, etc.) to lead to a final outcome, e.g. No one knows what were the preceding events that led up to the manager’s dismissal.

To say or write something that supports your intention which is not mentioned, e.g. Jack didn’t directly say he wanted to be captain of the team, however he led up to it by talking about his ability to lead.


leaf through

To turn the pages of a book, magazine, etc. casually.


leak out

To intentionally make secret information known to people.


lean on


lean towards

To rely on someone or something for support, encouragement, etc.

To influence someone to act in a certain way.

To have a tendency to support a view, belief, idea, opinion, etc.


leave … behind










leave ... off




leave ... out




leave over

To forget to bring someone or something along, e.g. He left his cell phone behind in his car.

To move faster than someone else, e.g. He is certain to win the gold medal as he leaves the other marathon runners far behind.

To go away from someone or something, e.g. He left his wife and kids behind and sought employment overseas.

To be slow and make less progress than others, e.g. I watch television more than I work hard; not surprisingly, I’m left behind by others.


To omit to add or put on something.

To discontinue doing something, e.g. I use a bookmark to help me remember where I leave off when I stop reading.


To deliberately or accidentally overlook the inclusion of someone or something, e.g. They have to leave him out from participating in any of the athletic events because he is far too fat.


To exceed a desired amount, e.g. I’ll leave the remaining food over for tomorrow.


lech after/over

To show excessive or offensive sexual desire for a woman.


let … down




let ... in/let ... into







let ... in on



let … off








let on


let out



let ... out








let up

To disappoint someone by not meeting their expectations, e.g. He assured me that he would come in first in the race, but he let me down by not turning up for the race.


To open the door of a building, house, etc. for someone to enter, e.g. She was still angry with me and would not let me in when I arrived.

(Light, air, etc.) to enter a place, e.g. Whenever it rained a crack on the roof let water seep in.

To share a secret with someone, e.g. Is it wise to let him into our secret plan to smuggle cigarettes?


To reveal a secret to someone with the understanding that they keep it to themselves, e.g. He let me in on how he acquired his wealth.


To fire a gun or make bomb, firework, etc. explode, e.g. Despite the official ban on firecrackers, people nationwide are letting them off to usher in the new year.

To decide not to punish someone, e.g. The victim’s family was furious when the judge let the offender off with only a warning.

To release someone from public transport, etc., e.g. The bus driver let the elderly passenger off in front of her house.


To make known secret information to someone.


To make a sound such as a scream, cry, etc., e.g. Her nightmare caused her to let out a scream of terror.


To allow someone or something to leave a confined area, building, etc., e.g. The zoo attendant opened a cage door and let some monkeys out to roam freely.

To make an item of clothing larger or looser as its owner has put on weight, e.g. This is the second time she is letting her dress out as she has put on more weight.

To allow someone else occupy a room, building, etc, in return for periodic payments.


(Storm, high winds, etc.) to become less intense, e.g. It looks like the rain is not going to let up any time soon.

To do something continuously, e.g. to grumble without letting up.


level at



level off/out

level with

To publicly accuse or criticize someone, e.g. level an accusation at.

To aim a weapon at someone.

To become level, e.g. the steep road begins to level off.

To have a frank talk or discussion with someone.


lick … up

To drink or eat something by licking it.


lie about/around




lie behind


lie down




lie in


lie with

To leave something untidily somewhere, e.g. She can really tolerate the sight of old newspapers, magazines, books, etc. lying around her.

To lie down and not doing anything, e.g. He is lying around watching television.

To be the real reason for a change of behaviour, e.g. something lies behind his sudden heavy drinking.

To accept unfair treatment without complaining, e.g. how long is he going to take this lying down?

To put oneself in a sleeping position.


To remain in bed longer than usual.


To have power, authority, etc., e.g. the responsibility to deal with the problem lies with the local authority.

To have sex with someone.


lift off

lift up

(Aircraft, spacecraft, etc.) to rise into the air.

To raise something from a surface, e.g. I lifted up an overturned can and a big insect hopped away.


light up






lighten up



lighten ... up

To provide light to a place or shine light on something, e.g. They light up trees in the city with multi-coloured light bulbs for the festive season.

(Face or eyes) to show pride, liveliness or joy;

To light something such as a cigarette, cigar, etc., e.g. He has no lighter or matches and so goes around borrowing them to light up his cigarettes.

To treat someone in a particular way, e.g. You have been grumbling at me for hours, aren’t you going to lighten up soon?

To be or to tell someone to be less serious about something, e.g. If she had realized it was just a joke, it would have lightened her up.


liken … to

To resemble someone else or something.


limber up

To warm up in preparation for an exercise or activity.


line up

line … up

To form a queue with others.

To form a line of people or things, e.g. They line up for inspection.

To have someone or something prepared for a specific purpose, e.g. to line up a number of speakers for the rally.


link up

To form a link between or connection with something or someone.


listen for

listen in


listen out

To pay one’s attention to a sound;

To listen to a radio broadcast.

To eavesdrop.

To listen carefully for something.


live in

live off



live on


live out






live through



live up to



live with

To reside at the place where one works or studies.

To depend on a source of income or support from another person, e.g. to live off the interest from one’s investment or live off the money regularly given by a relative such as a son or daughter.

To remember someone after they have died, e.g. the memory of their parents still lives on.

To live away from the place where one works or studies.

To continue to live one’s life in a particular place until one dies.

To fulfil one’s dreams or wishes, e.g. eventually they were able to live out their dreams.


To feel a horrific experience, e.g. the ordeal she had lived through.


To fulfil their obligation as a trustworthy financial, etc. institution, e.g. a bank has to live up to its reputation.


To make one’s home with someone, e.g. Despite my age, I’m still living with my parents.

Endure someone or something that is disagreeable, e.g. I was born with a face marred by a big aquiline nose, sunken cheeks and sleepy eyes, and I have to learn to live with it.


liven up

To become or make something more lively or interesting, e.g. the place livens up when more guests arrive.


load … down

To entrust someone with excess authority.

To make someone or something carry or hold a large amount of heavy things, e.g. she struggles to push her trolley loaded down with a great deal of purchases.


lobby … through

To seek to influence a legislator.


lock … away




lock ... in


lock onto



lock ... out



lock up

To put someone in prison.

To keep something in a safe place and fasten its door with a lock, e.g. she places her valuables in a safe and locks it away.

To ensure no one leaves by locking the door, e.g. Closing the car door automatically locks the driver in.


When a missile locks onto a target, it heads for the target.


To keep someone out of a place by locking the door, e.g. My God, I’ve locked myself out but luckily I’m a locksmith, so I have ways to unlock the door without the key.


To make all the doors of the building locked when the day’s work ends.

To imprison a criminal after he was officially found guilty.

To keep something in a safe place such as a safe, etc. and lock its door.


log in/on


log off/out

To take the required actions to begin the use of a computer system.

To take the required actions to conclude the use of a computer system.


look after

look ahead

look around/round




look at




look back


look down on



look for



look forward to


look in


look into




look on


look out



look ... out


look out for



look ... over



look through


look to 



look up



look ... up





look up to

To take care of someone or something;

To plan for the future.

To try to find something or someone by looking, e.g. We heard a sound, and we looked around but there was nothing and nobody, and we started running through the dimly lit alley.


To focus one’s eyes on someone or something, e.g. We look at each other when we talk to each other.

To examine something and consider what action to take.


To recall something that occurred in the past.


To view others with a feeling of superiority, e.g. She looks down on me just because I’m jobless.


To find something, or something that has been lost or someone who is missing.


To wait eagerly for something that is going to happen, e.g. He looks forward to playing in the next game.


To make a short visit to someone.


To try to find out what happened and take the necessary actions, e.g. Police, investigating a bank robbery, are looking into the possibility of an inside job.


To watch something without getting involved in it.


To keep a close watch on and be aware of someone or something.


To search for and find a particular thing.


To keep careful watch for possible danger or difficulties, e.g. Look out for snakes when you take that path, or you may step on one like I did.


To examine something quickly, without paying much attention to detail, e.g. We looked over the inside of a newly-opened store and left.


To look for one person or thing among many.


To rely on something or someone to do something.


(Situation) to improve, e.g. Now that oil has been discovered off the coast of the country, things are looking up.


To try to find a piece of information in a dictionary, reference book, etc, e.g. Every time he comes across an unknown word, he looks it up in a dictionary.

To renew contact with someone, e.g. My bother always looks me up whenever he is in town on business.


To have a great deal of respect for someone.


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.