English Phrasal Verbs
Phrasal Verbs are idiomatic expressions, combining verbs and prepositions to make new verbs whose meaning is often not obvious from the dictionary definitions of the individual words. They are widely used in both written and spoken English, and new ones are formed all the time as they are a flexible way of creating new terms.
A Phrasal Verb consists of a verb and a preposition or adverb that modifies or changes the meaning. Give up is such a verb that means stop doing something, which is very different from give. The word or words that modify a verb in this manner can also go under the name particle.
A reference page of 2,570 current English Phrasal Verbs (also called multi-word verbs) with definitions and examples is here.
Phrasal Verbs starting with B :
: Retreat or go backwards
The crowd BACKED AWAY when the man pulled a knife.
: Retract or withdraw your position or proposal in an argument
She refused to BACK DOWN and was fired.
The police told the protesters to BACK OFF.
: Fail to keep an arrangement or promise
He BACKED OUT two days before the holiday so we gave the ticket to his sister
Back out of
: Fail to keep an agreement, arrangement
She BACKED OUT OF the agreement at the last minute.
1. Make a copy of computer data
You should always BACK UP important files and documents so that you won't lose all your work if something goes wrong with the hardware.
The rest of the staff BACKED her UP when she complained about working conditions.
Don't bag out BAG OUT Australian English.
1. Save, rescue
The government had to BAIL OUT the airline because it was losing so much money.
2. Remove water from something that is flooded
The boat was leaking so they had to BAIL it OUT.
3. Jump out of a plane because it is going to crash
The pilot BAILED OUT when he saw that the engines had failed.
Bail out on
: Stop supporting someone when they are in trouble
Everybody BAILED OUT ON him when the scandal broke.
1. Talk to someone and delay them
I was late because he BAILED me UP on the phone and wouldn't shut up.
2. Rob someone at gunpoint
He was BAILED UP by a couple of muggers as he came out of the bank.
1. Confuse or make things complicated
The new project has BALLED me UP- I have no idea what to do.
2. Roll or form into a round shape
He BALLED UP his napkin when he had finished eating.
: Spoil, ruin
He BALLSED the presentation UP.
: Move in a place making a lot of noise
He's BANGING ABOUT in the kitchen.
: Move in a place making a lot of noise
I can hear him BANGING ABOUT upstairs.
Bang on about
: Keep talking about something
He is always BANGING ON ABOUT football.
: Play a musical instrument loudly
She BANGED the tune OUT on the piano.
1. Put someone in prison
The judge BANGED him UP for eight years.
2. Damage badly
He BANGED his car UP last night.
: Count or rely on
I'm BANKING ON your help. I can't do it alone.
: Enter a place and interrupt
He keeps BARGING IN and asking stupid questions when I am trying to work.
: Enter a place and interrupt people rudely
They BARGED INTO my office without knocking and started talking even though I was on the phone.
: Mistreat physically
If you BASH your monitor ABOUT like that, it would not last long.
: Break, damage or injure by hitting
The burglars BASHED the door IN to enter the house.
: Write something quickly without much preparation
I BASHED the essay OUT the night before I had to hand it in.
: Break, damage or hurt by hitting
They BASHED him UP in the fight in the pub last week and he had to go to hospital.
1. Scold, shout at someone
She BAWLED me OUT for coming home drunk.
She BAWLED Raj OUT for getting there late.
3. Sing or shout unpleasantly loudly
He BAWLED OUT our names at the top of his voice.
: Try to find or get
The police ARE AFTER him because of the theft.
The next bus should BE ALONG in the next quarter of an hour or so.
: Be elsewhere; on holiday, etc.
She is AWAY on business for three weeks.
Be cut out for
: Be suitable, have the necessary qualities
She is not CUT OUT FOR this kind of work.
Be cut up
: Be upset
She was very CUT UP about coming second as she thought she deserved to win.
1. Be depressed
He has BEEN DOWN since his partner left him.
2. Be reduced or less
The firm's profits ARE DOWN by ten percent this quarter.
Be down with
: Be ill
Gul is DOWN WITH some bug and is off work today.
Be fed up
: Be bored, upset or sick of something
I AM FED UP of his complaints.
1. Be at home or at work
They ARE never IN. I always get their answer phone.
2. Be submitted, arrive
The application form must BE IN by 3pm on Friday.
Be in on
: Be involved in
Susan was the only one who WASN'T IN ON the plan.
Be not on
: Be unacceptable
The way he's behaving IS just NOT ON.
1. Be bad (of food)
This yoghurt must BE OFF. It smells foul.
2. Depart, leave
I'm OFF home. It’s five o'clock.
1. Be functioning (of machines)
The computer IS ON.
2. Take place
The show IS ON for the next three months.
3. Take medication or drugs, especially when they affect the person badly
He IS ON anti-depressants and has become very difficult to please.
Be on about
: Mean, try to say
I couldn't understand what he WAS ON ABOUT. It made no sense.
: Pursue, be aware of someone's true nature
He's being very careful because he thinks the police ARE ONTO him.
: Be absent from a place
She IS OUT on a visit for the day.
Be out of
: Have no more left
We're OUT OF coffee so I'll have to go and get some.
Be out to
She IS OUT TO get him sacked because she hates him.
Be snowed under
: Have too much work
We're completely SNOWED UNDER at work because it's the end of the tax year.
Be taken aback
: Be shocked or surprised
I WAS TAKEN ABACK when I saw him because he's lost all his hair.
Be taken with
: Like something
I WAS very TAKEN WITH the performance- it was superb.
1. Be out of bed
She's not UP yet.
2. Have increased or risen
The company's profits ARE UP by fifteen percent.
3. When the time for something finishes or expires
Time's UP, please finish your drinks and leave.
Be up to
1. Be good enough
He's not UP TO the job; get someone else.
2. Doing something naughty or wrong
What are those kids UP TO?
Bear down on
: Move towards
She spotted him on the other side of the room and BORE DOWN ON him.
: Influence, affect
The judge's character may well BEAR ON the final decision.
: Confirm that something is correct
Statistics BEAR OUT the government’s positions on the issue.
: Resist pressure
How are you BEARING UP under the strain?
Bear up under
: Cope with something difficult or stressful
He's BEARING UP UNDER the pressure.
: Be patient
Please BEAR WITH me a moment while I finish this email.
: Strong sunshine
The sun WAS really BEATING DOWN and we couldn't stay outdoors.
: Attack violently
The mugger BEAT him UP and stole his wallet.
: Work hard
She& is BEAVERING AWAY before her exams.
Beaver away at
: Work hard doing something
I have to BEAVER AWAY AT it or else I will fail the course.
1. Sleep somewhere less comfortable than normal
We had to BED DOWN on the floor for the night.
2. Become established or successful over time
The new government has found it hard to BED DOWN and become accepted.
: Move a plant outside
I BEDDED the plants OUT when the weather warmed up.
: Make something stronger or more solid
The company BEEFED UP their case when they saw that the public wouldn't accept their first explanation of the accident.
: Sing something loudly
They BELTED OUT the national anthems before the game.
1. Be quiet
She told the students to BELT UP because they were making so much noise.
2. Fasten your seatbelt
I told the kids to BELT UP before I started the car.
: Lower the top half of your body
I BENT DOWN to pick it up off the floor.
: Lower the top part of your body
I BENT OVER to do my shoes up.
Bend over backwards
: Do a lot to try to help or please someone
I BENT OVER BACKWARDS for them and they did not even thank me.
1. Fall unconscious
He BLACKED OUT and collapsed on the floor.
2. Lose light
Everything BLACKED OUT when the power supply failed.
1. Censor text so that words cannot be read
The email addresses were BLANKED OUT in the documents shown to the court.
2. Have a temporary memory failure
I was so nervous in the interview that I just BLANKED OUT and couldn't answer their questions properly.
: A loud sound or music
The music was BLARING OUT and I couldn't get to sleep.
: Leave the ground- spaceship or rocket
The space shuttle BLASTED OFF on schedule yesterday.
: Fire a gun repeatedly
The shooters BLAZED AWAY at the pheasants.
: Be extremely relaxed and happy
I BLISSED OUT on the beach all week.
1. Park a car and obstruct another car
I could not drive here this morning because someone had BLOCKED me IN.
2. Shade or fill in
He BLOCKED IN the events in his calendar.
: Obstruct an exit to prevent people from leaving
The police BLOCKED OFF the road after the murder.
1. Stop light from entering or leaving
The trees BLOCK the sun OUT most of the day.
2. Try not thinking about or feeling something because it is upsetting or painful
It was so unpleasant that I try to BLOCK it OUT- otherwise, I would just be angry all the time.
: Fill a space so that nothing can pass
The pipe is BLOCKED UP and no water gets through.
He grabbed a gun and BLEW the police officer AWAY.
2. Beat rivals or competitors by a large margin
Their new product has BLOWN all the others AWAY.
3. Impress greatly
Her first novel BLEW me AWAY.
4. When the wind moves something from a place
The flag BLEW AWAY in the storm; we will have to buy a new one.
: When the wind forces something to fall
A tree was BLOWN DOWN in the storm.
1. Not keep an appointment
We were going to meet last night, but she BLEW me OFF at the last minute.
2. Ignore, not do something
I BLEW the homework OFF and did badly.
: Extinguish candles, matches, etc.
She BLEW the candles OUT on her birthday cake.
: When a scandal gets forgotten
The scandal BLEW OVER within a fortnight when the press found someone else to attack.
The bomb BLEW UP without any warning.
: Say something quickly without thinking, especially if you shouldn't
I was really angry when he BLURTED OUT the secret.
: Slow make progress
Yasini got BOGGED DOWN in his research and didn't finish the project in time.
: Eat enthusiastically
We were starving and BOGGED IN when the food was served.
: Eat something enthusiastically
They BOGGED INTO the lunch.
: Get lost
He lost his temper and told her to BOG OFF.
: Simplify, reduce to the essentials
The report is so long, I BOILED it DOWN into a two-page summary.
Boil down to
: Amount to
It all BOILS DOWN TO money at the end of the day.
1. When a hot liquid spills out of a container
I left the milk on the cooker and it BOILED OVER.
2. When people lose their tempers and things get nasty
The tension had been building up and it BOILED OVER in the meeting.
1. Feel a negative emotion strongly
The anger BOILED UP in me when I saw what they had done.
2. Cook or heat something to boiling point
I BOILED UP some water for a cup of coffee.
Bone up on
: Study hard
I need to BONE UP ON my French grammar for the test.
1. Make a reservation in advance
I'll BOOK us IN at the Intercontinental.
2. Check in at a hotel
WE took a taxi from the airport to the hotel and BOOKED IN.
1. Make a reservation in advance
I've BOOKED us INTO a hotel in the centre of town for three nights.
2. Check in at a hotel
We BOOKED INTO the first hotel we could find.
The flight's fully BOOKED UP. I'll have to go the following day.
: Start a computer
He BOOTED UP the computer and started work.
1. Be located next to a place
Portugal BORDERS ON Spain.
2. Be very nearly something
What he did was BORDERING ON betrayal.
: Use excessive authority to control people
She BOSSES everyone ABOUT.
: Use excessive authority to control people
He BOSSES everyone AROUND.
: Ruin or spoil something
I BOTCHED UP the whole project and it had to be cancelled.
: Store up
He kept his feelings BOTTLED AWAY.
: Lack courage to do something
She was going to tell her boss exactly what she thought, but BOTTLED OUT in the end.
: Not express your feelings
She BOTTLED UP her feelings even though she was furious with them and kept quiet.
: Pass the lowest point and start rising
The recession BOTTOMED OUT and the economy is recovering well.
: Force someone
They have BOUNCED the government INTO calling an early election.
Bounce back : Recover
The economy is BOUNCING BACK from the recession.
: Test ideas
They BOUNCED ideas OFF each other in a brainstorming session.
: Surprise someone greatly
I was BOWLED OVER by the news.
: Prevent something from moving, especially vehicles
I was BOXED IN by the bus and could not change lane.
: Pack things in boxes to move them
At the end of term, I BOXED my books UP and sent them home.
: Move into a different area of business, etc.
The supermarkets have BRANCHED OUT into banking.
: Leave an organization, usually to form a new one
The SDP BROKE AWAY from the Labor Party.
1. End negotiations unsuccessfully
The talks between management and the unions BROKE DOWN acrimoniously.
2. Start crying
He BROKE DOWN in tears.
3. Stop working
My car's BROKEN DOWN, so I came by taxi.
1. Go into a building to steal something
The burglars BROKE IN and stole the TV and video.
2. Interrupt something
I'm sorry to BREAK IN on your conversation, but there's a problem.
3. Train a horse to be ridden
It took ages to BREAK the horse IN.
1. Break a piece from something
She BROKE OFF a square of chocolate and gave it to her dog.
2. End a relationship
She BROKE OFF their engagement when she found out that he'd been unfaithful.
Break out of
Three dangerous Category A prisoners BROKE OUT OF Wands worth Prison last night.
: Pass a barrier or obstacle
The crowd BROKE THROUGH the police barriers and attacked the hunters.
1. Break into many pieces
The plate BROKE UP when he dropped it on the floor.
2. Close an educational institution for the holidays
Schools BREAK UP at the end of June for the summer holidays.
3. Finish a relationship
They had been going out for a couple of years before they BROKE UP.
: Move easily and quickly
The film BREEZES ALONG for the first hour then becomes rather dull and slow.
: Enter a place quickly
He BREEZED IN and started shouting at us.
: Enter a place quickly
He BREEZED INTO the room and switched the TV on.
: Pass easily, succeed
She BREEZED THROUGH her exams.
1. Improve (weather)
The day started cloudy but BRIGHTENED UP in the afternoon.
2. Become happier
He BRIGHTENED UP when he heard the news.
3. Make something more attractive or pleasant
We tried to BRIGHTEN the place UP by painting it.
: Make something happen
The changes to the law were BROUGHT ABOUT by the government because so many people were ignoring the old one.
1. Bring someone or something to certain place
You can BRING your friends ALONG if you like.
2. Help someone improve
Her coach has BROUGHT her ALONG a lot in the last six months.
1. Persuade or convince someone
It took me ages to BRING him AROUND to my point of view.
2. Bring something with you when you visit
He BROUGHT some books AROUND when he came last night.
3. Get someone talking about something
He did not want to discuss the details, but I managed to BRING him AROUND and he told me everything.
1. Cause someone to remember
Visiting my old school BROUGHT BACK memories of when I was a pupil there.
He took the calculator home yesterday and hasn't BROUGHT it BACK yet.
1. Make a government fall
The vote of no-confidence BROUGHT the government DOWN.
2. Make something cheaper
The improvements in technology have BROUGHT the prices of computers DOWN considerably in recent months.
1. Produce something, make it known or visible
The prosecution BROUGHT FORTH a lot of evidence against him.
She BROUGHT FORTH a surprising result.
3. Make something happen
The report has BROUGHT FORTH a lot of criticism of the policy.
4. Remove something from where it is kept or hidden
She BROUGHT FORTH the diary and showed it to us.
: Make something happen earlier than originally planned
The meeting has been BROUGHT FORWARD to this Friday instead of next week because some people couldn't make it then.
The job BRINGS IN two thousand dollars a month.
: Cause something to happen or speed up the process
Getting wet in the rain yesterday BROUGHT ON my cold.
: release or publish
The band is BRINGING OUT a new CD in the autumn.
Bring out in
: Cause a health problem or reaction
It was the lobster that BROUGHT me OUT in this rash all over my body.
: make someone wake up from unconsciousness or an anesthetic
The doctors BROUGHT him ROUND a few hours after the operation.
They didn't BRING the subject UP at the meeting.
2. Raise a child
My parents BROUGHT me UP strictly.
: Ignore, pay little attention
The minister BRUSHED OFF the criticism.
: Improve a skill quickly
She took a two-week course to BRUSH UP her Spanish before she traveling around South and Central America.
: Become very excited
She BUBBLED OVER with joy when she heard her exam results.
: Rain heavily
Take an umbrella; it is BUCKETING DOWN.
: Move to make space for someone
We had to BUDGE UP to let the fourth person in the back of the car.
1. Clear, clean or make something shine
The silver candlestick looked lovely after I BUFFED it UP.
After the scandal, the politician tried to BUFF UP his public image.
Buff up on
: Improve your knowledge quickly
I BUFFED UP ON my grammar before the test.
: Go away
I told her to bug off because she was annoying me.
1. Open your eyes wide in surprise
He BUGGED OUT when she turned up.
2. Leave somewhere in a hurry
They BUGGED OUT when the police arrived.
1. Develop a company
She BUILT the business UP from nothing into a market leader in less than a decade.
Tension has been BUILDING UP ever since the government passed the unpopular law.
: Make something bigger or thicker
I BULKED the essay OUT with a few quotes to reach the number of word required.
: Meet by chance
I BUMPED INTO Helen on the underground the other day.
The drug dealer was BUMPED OFF by a rival gang.
They BUMP UP the prices in the high season.
: Send someone somewhere
He BUNDLED the kids OFF to bed.
The barman BUNDLED the drunk OUT because he was annoying the other customers.
1. Put on warm clothing
We BUNDLED UP before going out as it was snowing.
2. Wrap or tie things together
I BUNDLED UP my newspapers and dropped them in the recycling bin.
: Not go to school when you should
I used to BUNK OFF school and go into town.
: Make someone feel more positive
After so much criticism, the positive review BUOYED him UP.
: Burn completely
They had to completely rebuild the museum after the old one BURNED DOWN.
: Remove by burning or similar process
I BURN OFF a lot of calories in the gym.
: Lose enthusiasm and energy to continue in a demanding job
Jennie BURNT OUT after ten years working as a future broker and went to live in the country.
1. Catch fire very quickly
She BURST INTO laughter when she heard the joke.
2. Laugh, cry or clap loudly
The car BURST INTO flames and the driver died as he didn't have time to get out.
I hope you don't mind me BUTTING IN on your conversation, but I couldn't help hearing what you said.
: Not be involved in other people's business
This is none of your business, so just BUTT OUT!
: Praise or flatter someone excessively
I tried BUTTERING my tutor UP but she still wouldn’t let me hand it in late.
: Force a CD or record into the charts by buying lots of copies
Joe Meek's last hit, 'Singing' the Blues', was probably BOUGHT IN at number 40, but failed to go any higher.
: Accept an idea
I never BOUGHT INTO the idea of a federalist European Union.
: Pay someone to stop them causing trouble
He BOUGHT the newspaper OFF by placing a lot of adverts.
: Buy somebody's share in a company
His business partners BOUGHT him OUT to get rid of him.
: Buy all of something
We BOUGHT UP all the shop had before the price went up.
: Move quickly around a place
Reporters were BUZZING AROUND the scene of the accident.
: Leave somewhere
I am BUZZING OFF now. I have to meet some people.
: Go away (imperative)
He told them to BUZZ OFF because they were annoying him.
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