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 reference page of 2,570 current English Phrasal Verbs (also called multi-word verbs) with definitions and examples is here.
Phrasal Verbs beginning with C :
: Name someone after somebody else
She was CALLED Rose AFTER her late grandmother.
I CALLED AROUND but she was not in.
: Return a phone call
I must CALL her BACK when we get to the office.
The Opposition party CALLED FOR the minister's resignation after the scandal broke.
2. Go to collect something
The courier CALLED FOR your parcel, but I told him it wasn't ready yet.
3. Telephone for something
I'll CALL FOR a cab right away.
4. Go and collect someone to take them out
I'll CALL FOR you at seven, so be ready because the film starts at half past.
An emergency like this CALLS FOR some pretty drastic action.
: Make something happen
The protests CALLED FORTH a strong reaction from the police.
1. Get someone to come and do a job
We had to CALL IN a plumber because the sink was leaking and I had no idea how to fix it.
2. Stop and visit
I CALLED IN on Jenny on my way home because she's not very well at the moment and I wanted to see if she needed anything.
The concert had to be CALLED OFF because the singer went down with a bad case of flu.
2. Order someone to stop attacking
CALL OFF your lawyers; we can work something out.
1. Ask for help
The President CALLED ON the wealthy countries for financial aid after the floods destroyed much of the country's agriculture.
As we were in the area, we CALLED ON my sister-in-law.
He CALLED the speaker ON several mis-statements of fact.
4. Ask someone to do something, especially to speak in public. (Formal)
I now CALL ON the other party to give their account of what happened.
I CALLED ROUND on my way home but no one was in.
1. Summon someone for military service
The army CALLED UP the reserve soldiers when the war broke out.
I CALLED him UP as soon as I got to a phone to tell him the news.
: Stop being angry or emotionally excited
When I lose my temper, it takes ages for me to CALM DOWN again.
: Have an opposite effect on something that has happened, taking things back to the beginning.
The airport taxes CANCELLED OUT the savings we had made on the flight tickets.
I don't CARE FOR fizzy drinks; I prefer water.
: Get so emotional that you lose control
The team got CARRIED AWAY when they won the championship and started shouting and throwing things around.
1. Include a figure in a later calculation
They CARRIED FORWARD their losses to the next financial year.
2. Make something progress
They hope the new management will be able to CARRY the project FORWARD.
1. Win, succeed
She CARRIED OFF the first prize in the competition.
2. Die of a disease
Cancer CARRIED him OFF a couple of years ago.
CARRY ON quietly with your work until the substitute teacher arrives.
Carry on with
: Have an affair
He has been CARRYING ON WITH someone at work for years.
1. Perform a task
The government is CARRYING OUT test on growing genetically modified crops.
2. Food bought from a restaurant to take away
I'm too tired to cook- let's get a CARRY-OUT.
: Continue past a certain point
The meeting CARRIED OVER into the afternoon because there was so much to talk about.
: Complete successfully
They CARRIED the reforms THROUGH despite the opposition.
1. Take someone away, usually under arrest or to prison
The police CARTED them OFF to question them.
2. Take something away, especially if stealing or without permission
The thieves CARTED OFF all the ticket receipts.
: Convert shares, bonds, casino chips, etc, into money
They CASHED IN their bonds and spent the money on a holiday.
Cash in on
: Benefit or make money on something, especially if done unfairly
The opposition party is CASHING IN ON the government’s unpopularity.
: Illegally access a bank account or credit card and steal money
A hacker got my credit card details from my computer and CASHED OUT a lot of money.
: Count all the money taken in a shop or business at the end of the day
After the shop closed, they have to CASH UP before they can go home.
: Take or grab hold of something
She CAUGHT AT my sleeve as I was leaving and said she needed to talk to me.
1. Become popular
Many critics were shocked when techno CAUGHT ON in the clubs.
2. Finally understand what is going on
Everyone else realized what was happening, but it took Henry ages to CATCH ON.
The exam is designed to CATCH you OUT.
2. Discover or prove that someone is lying
He CAUGHT me OUT when he checked my story with my previous employer.
3. Put someone in an unexpected and difficult situation (often passive)
We were CAUGHT OUT in the storm.
1. Get work, etc, up to date.
I was ill for a fortnight and now I've got to CATCH UP on the work I missed.
2. Reach someone who was ahead of you
He started well, but I CAUGHT him UP on the third lap.
Catch up on
: Do something that should have been done earlier
I'm going home to CATCH UP ON my sleep.
Catch up with
1. Do something that should have been done earlier
I am going home to CATCH UP WITH my sleep.
2. Meet someone after a period of time and find out what they have been doing
I CAUGHT UP WITH her at the conference.
3. When something negative starts to have an effect
His criminal behavior is starting to CATCH UP WITH him.
4. Punish someone after they have been doing something wrong for a long time
The tax authorities CAUGHT UP WITH me for not submitting my tax returns.
5. Learn something new that many people already understand
My mother is trying to CATCH UP WITH computers.
: To provide what is necessary
The college CATERS FOR students of all ages.
: To provide what is needed, often seen negatively
The film CATERS TO the audience’s worst instincts.
The roof CAVED IN because of the weight of the snow.
2. Stop resisting or refusing
The government has refused to CAVE IN despite the protests and demonstrations.
: To cut a line of cocaine
He went into the toilets to CHALK a line OUT.
: To achieve something good
The company has CHALKED UP its highest ever profits.
Chalk up to
: Explain the reason for a problem
They CHALKED the poor sales UP TO the lower numbers of tourists visiting this year.
: Find something by accident
I CHANCED UPON a very rare book in car boot sale and bought it for 65p.
: Change a system
The Irish CHANGED OVER to using kilometers in 2005.
: Put electricity into a battery
I need to CHARGE my phone UP- the battery's dead.
: Accuse somebody of a crime
She was arrested in customs last night and has been CHARGED WITH smuggling.
: Try hard to find or get something
The press CHASED us DOWN when the story broke.
: Force a person to leave or go away
The dog CHASED he postal worker OFF.
1. Ensure that someone remembers to do something
The librarian is CHASING me UP about my overdue books.
2. Try to get someone to pay a bill, debt, etc
I CHASED her UP as she hadn’t paid for several months.
3. Try to get more information about the progress of something
I did not get a reply so I have been CHASING them UP.
: Talk to someone you are sexually interested in to get them interested in you
He spent the whole night CHATTING her UP.
: Be sexually unfaithful
She CHEATED ON me with my friend.
Cheat out of
: Get money from someone under false pretences
I hate him. He CHEATED me OUT OF £100.
: Visit a place to check something
We CHECKED BY the office to see if the stuff was ready.
: Register on arriving at a hotel or at the airport
They CHECKED IN at the Ritz yesterday.
: Register on arriving at a hotel or at the airport
They CHECKED INTO the Ritz yesterday.
: Mark something on a list as done
She CHECKED OFF the candidates' names as they arrived.
1. Pay the bill when leaving a hotel
She CHECKED OUT and took a cab to the airport.
She CHECKED OUT last week; the funeral's tomorrow.
Check out of
: Settle up and pay before leaving a hotel
Guests have to CHECK OUT OF the hotel before midday.
: Check something very carefully
We CHECKED the contract OVER before signing it.
Their CHEERED their team ON throughout the match.
: Be less unhappy
Come on, CHEER UP; it isn't all bad, you know.
: Thinks about something carefully before deciding
I'll CHEW ON it for a day or two and let you know what I think.
: Criticize someone angrily
They CHEWED him OUT for being late.
: Think about an issue
He asked for a few days to CHEW the matter OVER before he made a final decision.
1. Cut into small pieces with your teeth
The puppy CHEWED UP the newspaper.
2. Damage something inside a machine
The video CHEWED my tape UP.
: Be too afraid to do something
I CHICKENED OUT of the bungee jumping when I saw how high it was.
I'm staying at home and CHILLING OUT this evening.
: Contribute to a discussion
If it's OK, I'd like to CHIME IN because I think it's a good idea.
Chip away at
: Gradually reduce something to make it less powerful, effective, etc
They have been CHIPPING AWAY AT his reputation ever since he took office.
1. Contribute some money
Everybody CHIPPED IN to pay the bill.
2. Contribute to a discussion
If I could CHIP IN, there are a couple of issues I'd like to raise.
1. Form groups or teams
We CHOSE UP to play the game.
2. Form groups or teams
We CHOSE UP teams before the game.
: Fell or cut down a tree
They CHOPPED DOWN most of the forest and now it looks like a desert.
: Cut into small pieces
I CHOPPED UP the vegetables for the soup.
: Dispose of something you no longer need or want
I CHUCKED AWAY all my old records years ago when CDs came out.
1. Quit something
I CHUCKED my job IN to go travelling.
2. Make a comment
I CHUCKED IN a few points at the end of the discussion.
: Dispose of something you no longer need or want
I CHUCKED OUT some stuff I found in the fridge that had gone bad.
1. Vomit, be sick
He got ridiculously drunk and CHUCKED UP in the back of the minicab on the way home.
2. Quit something
She didn't like the course, so she CHUCKED it UP after a few weeks.
: Produce, usually quickly or in large amounts without much regard to quality
The government CHURNS OUT educational policies every few months.
: Make something sticky
His arteries are CLAGGED UP because he eats so much saturated fat.
: Be quiet, refuse to speak
Everybody CLAMMED UP when the Principal entered.
Clamp down on
: Restrict or try to stop something
The governments are CLAMPING DOWN ON antisocial behaviour.
1. Get money back
The new tax will CLAW BACK what the government has given out in grants.
2. Retake possession with difficulty
The opposition parties are trying to CLAW BACK the voters they lost in the last election.
1. Tidy up thoroughly and throw away unwanted things.
I really must CLEAN the study OUT; there's stuff all over the floor and piles of paper everywhere.
2. Cause someone to spend all their money
The holiday CLEANED me OUT- I'm broke till the end of the month.
: Tidy and clean
CLEAN this bedroom UP; it's a disgrace.
1. Leave a place
We were told to CLEAR AWAY from the scene of the accident.
2. Remove or tidy
After dinner, I CLEARED AWAY the plates and dishes.
: Leave somewhere quickly
As soon as the trouble started, we CLEARED OFF.
1. Tidy up thoroughly and throw away unwanted stuff.
I spent the whole weekend CLEARING OUT the attic as it was full of papers and other junk.
2. Leave somewhere
I told them to CLEAR OUT because they were making so much noise.
1. Cure or recover from an infection
I took the antihistamines and the rash CLEARED UP right away.
2. Tidy up
I'd better CLEAR AWAY the mess before leave.
Could you CLEAR these points UP before we go any further?
4. Improve (weather)
The skies CLEARED UP and the sun came out.
: Open an advertisement on the Internet
Only a tiny fraction of users ever bother CLICKING THROUGH the banner adverts.
: Accept that you are wrong and change your position
The Prime Minister had to CLIMB DOWN over his tax proposals because there was so much opposition from the members of his own party.
: Block, slow movement right down
The traffic's so bad the roads get CLOGGED UP at rush hour.
1. Close a shop, branch or business permanently
The banks have CLOSED DOWN a lot of branches in villages over the last few years.
2. Stop an opponent being a challenge
He CLOSED the player DOWN and stopped him being a threat.
1. Surround, envelop
The fog CLOSED IN and we couldn't see two yards in front of us.
2. Approach, get near
The police were CLOSING IN so they decided to try to make a break.
Close in on
: Get near someone
The police were CLOSING IN ON the gang.
Close in upon
: Get near someone
The police were CLOSING IN UPON the gang.
: Block a place to stop people entering
The police CLOSED the road OFF after the explosion.
: Get nearer
She is CLOSING ON the leader of the race.
1. Bring something to an end
We CLOSED OUT the meeting early and went home.
2. Close or stop using
She CLOSED OUT the account and changed to another bank.
3. Ignore, exclude
They always CLOSE me OUT of their plans.
1. Completely close something
They CLOSE UP the building after everyone has left.
2. Join together
The leaves CLOSE UP when it rains.
3. Move closer together
They CLOSED UP when they saw the gang coming towards them.
: Get very cloudy
The morning started bright and warm, but it CLOUDED OVER around midday and poured with rain.
: Behave stupidly or waste time
The students were CLOWNING ABOUT all lesson.
: Behave stupidly or waste time
I couldn't concentrate because they were CLOWNING AROUND all afternoon.
: Ruin or spoil something
It was so easy, but he managed to COCK everything UP.
Colour (Color) up
He COLOURED (COLORED) UP when he was caught stealing from the till.
: Happen, occur
The meeting CAME ABOUT because both sides were sick of fighting.
1. Find by accident
I CAME ACROSS my old school reports when I was clearing out my desk.
2. Agree to have sex with someone
I was surprised when she CAME ACROSS on the first night.
3. The way other people see you
He CAME ACROSS as shy because he spoke so quietly.
: Break into pieces
It CAME APART when I tried to lift it off the floor and I had to glue it back together.
: Appear in court charged with a crime or offence
He CAME BEFORE the court on charges of speeding.
I'll COME BY after work and see if you need any help.
How did you COME BY that Rolex?
Just look at the rain COMING DOWN! I'm not going out in that.
When you're next in London, COME DOWN and see us.
Come down on
: Criticize heavily
The management really CAME DOWN ON him for losing the contract.
Come down with
: Fall ill
She CAME DOWN WITH a virus.
The draft proposal CAME FORTH in April.
Come forth with
: Provide information
None of the witnesses CAME FORTH WITH an accurate description of the gang.
: Country or town where you were born
She COMES FROM Somalia.
1. Arrive for flights
The plane CAME IN at two-thirty in the morning.
2. Place or ranking in a competition, etc.
I did my best but CAME IN last but one in the race.
3. Receive news
Reports are just COMING IN of an assassination attempt on the President.
1. Be important or relevant
Money doesn't COME INTO it; I simply will not do it under any circumstances.
She CAME INTO a lot of money when her grandmother died.
Come into use
: Start being used
The computerised system CAME INTO USE at the end of last year.
1. When something breaks off
I picked it up and the handle CAME OFF in my hand.
2. Be successful
I was surprised when the plan CAME OFF so easily.
Come off it
: I don't believe what you're saying; used as an imperative
COME OFF IT; tell me the truth for goodness' sake.
COME ON; don't give up now when you're so close to finishing.
2. Start an illness
I've got a bit of a headache. I hope it doesn't mean I've got flu COMING ON.
3. Start functioning (machines, etc)
The central heating COMES ON automatically an hour before I have to get up.
1. A secret is revealed
The details of the scandal CAME OUT in the press and she had to resign.
2. Be published or otherwise available to the public
The band's new CD is COMING OUT in September.
3. Disappear when washed
The red wine I spilt just will not COME OUT of the carpet no matter what I try to clean it with.
4. Let people know that you are lesbian or gay
She CAME OUT at university and has been living with her partner, Jane, for the last couple of years.
5. When the sun appears
It started cloudy, but then the sun CAME OUT and we all went to the park.
Come out in
: Have a rash or similar skin problem
She CAME OUT IN a nasty rash after touching the poisonous plant by mistake.
Come out with
1. Make something available
They have just COME OUT WITH a new version.
2. Say something publicly and unexpectedly
She CAME OUT WITH the answer when everyone was expecting it to remain unsolved.
: Feel strange
I CAME OVER all faint and weak because my sugar level was too low. (British)
1. Become conscious, wake up from anesthetic
She CAME ROUND and learned that the operation had been a complete success.
2. Change your opinion
Ate first she didn't like the idea, but she CAME ROUND to our way of thinking in the end.
1. Arrive (messages and information)
News is COMING THROUGH of a major accident on the M25, where freezing fog has been making driving conditions extremely dangerous.
2. Communicate an emotion
The anger she felt COMES THROUGH.
3. Produce a result
They promised they'd do it, but they haven't COME THROUGH yet.
Come through with
: Provide something needed
He didn't COME THROUGH WITH the money and they went bust.
1. Become conscious, wake up from anesthetic
She CAME TO an hour after the operation.
2. Result in
The two men started arguing but they soon CAME TO blows and started fighting in earnest.
I'll be late home tonight because something's COME UP at work has to be ready for tomorrow morning.
2. Rise (the sun)
The sun CAME UP just as we reached the outskirts of the town.
Come up against
: Encounter problems or difficulties
They CAME UP AGAINST a lot of opposition to their plans for an out-of-town supermarket development.
Come up with
: Think of a solution, excuse, etc.
Nobody could COME UP WITH a satisfactory explanation for the accident.
: Find by chance
I CAME UPON the book in a little second-hand bookshop in Dorset.
1. Create a picture or memory in someone's mind
It CONJURES UP memories of my school days.
2. Create something without many resources
I had to CONJURE UP a full weekend's entertainment for the visitors with no notice at all.
1. Fall fast asleep
I was exhausted and CONKED OUT on the sofa.
2. Suddenly breakdown or stop working
The printer CONKED OUT so I couldn't get a hard copy.
: Become involved or committed to something
Since it started, many companies have CONTRACTED IN to lend their support.
: Give a contract for a service outside the company you work for
They have CONTRACTED OUT their catering services to save money.
Contract out of
: Formally leave and agreement
I CONTRACTED OUT OF the deal years ago.
1. Get cooler
I left the tea for a minute until it had COOLED DOWN enough to drink.
2. Become calm
It took me ages to COOL DOWN after the argument.
: Confine in a small area
They COOPED the dog UP in a tiny room.
: Get into trouble
They really COPPED IT when they got caught shoplifting.
1. Leave work or school early
We COPPED OFF early on Friday because there was nothing to do.
2. Kiss, pet or have sex with someone
She COPPED OFF with Damian at the end-of-term party.
: Choose an easy alternative
She was going to take a Master's degree but COPPED OUT and chose the Diploma course instead.
: To work out the truth
It took me ages to COTTON ON to what they were planning.
Could do with
: Need or want something
I COULD really DO WITH a cup of tea.
: Include or involve
If you're going on that skiing holiday, you can COUNT me IN; I'd love to go.
: Depend, rely
You can COUNT ON them; if they have promised to do something, they'll do it.
I don't want to go- you can COUNT me OUT.
COUNT UP the number of tickets sold, please.
: Make yourself comfortable
It was cold and I COZIED UP by the fire.
Cozy up to
: Make yourself popular with someone
He's been COZYING UP TO our boss because he wants a pay rise.
Crack down on
: Use more authority than usual
The police always CRACK DOWN ON drink-driving offences over the Christmas period.
: Continue doing something with energy
We had to CRACK ON to get everything finished on time.
1. Have a nervous breakdown
He CRACKED UP after his son died and had to take a couple of months off work.
2. Have bad reception on a mobile phone
You'll have to talk louder- you're CRACKING UP.
3. Burst out laughing
Everybody CRACKED UP when he told the joke.
4. Damage a car badly
He CRACKED his car UP last night when he came off the road.
: Produce a lot of something fast
My boss keeps CRANKING OUT stupid memos.
1. Inject non-medical drugs
He's been CRANKING UP heroin for years.
2. Start a machine, originally with a handle
He CRANKED the saw UP.
3. Increase, make something bigger
I CRANKED the volume UP as high as it would go.
1. Sleep at someone's house because you are too tired, drunk, etc. to leave
Dave CRASHED OUT at a friend's flat after the end-of-term party.
2. Fall asleep
I CRASHED OUT in front of the TV last night.
1. Start to be noticeable
He tried to stay calm, but you could hear the anger CREEPING IN.
2. Get included despite attempts to keep it or them out
Errors CREPT IN as the text got longer.
: Become noticeable in something
An angry tone CREPT INTO her voice.
: Make someone feel worried or uneasy
He CREEPS me OUT when he gets drunk.
Creep out on
: To do the same activity for a very long time
He's been CREEPING OUT ON that computer game all day.
: Start to have a negative feeling
Fear CREPT OVER me as I walked through the graveyard.
Creep up on
: Approach without someone realizing
They CREPT UP ON their rivals and overtook them.
: Appear unexpectedly
I'm going to be late tonight as something has just CROPPED UP at work.
: Delete, remove from a list
She CROSSED him OFF her Christmas card list after they argued.
: Put as line through some writing to show it is wrong
She CROSSED OUT her mistakes and wrote the correct answers above them.
: Clear a table in a restaurant
The waiter CRUMBED DOWN before the coffee was served.
: To cancel an arrangement
I've got to work tonight; can I CRY OFF going out for dinner?
: Shout because you are in pain
He CRIED OUT when he dropped the box on his toes.
1. Go across a place rather than around it to make the journey quicker
It'll be quicker if we CUT ACROSS the park.
2. Affect people of different groups, classes, etc
The issue CUTS ACROSS social backgrounds as it affects us all equally.
The firm CUT BACK production because sales were sluggish.
Cut back on
: Reduce expenditure
The government has decided to CUT BACK ON spending on the armed forces.
1. Consume less
I'm trying to CUT DOWN the amount of coffee I drink during the day.
A lot of soldiers were CUT DOWN by enemy fire as they stormed the airport.
3. Reduce a vertical thing to ground level by cutting
The logger CUT the tree DOWN.
4. Cut something from a high position
After Christmas he didn't carefully detach all the decorations, he just CUT them all DOWN.
Cut down on
Doctors advised her to CUT DOWN ON the amount of saturated fats in her diet.
1. Start functioning
The fans CUT IN when the engine starts getting too hot.
2. Drive in front of another vehicle without warning
A car CUT IN and nearly caused an accident.
We were having a conversation when he came up and CUT IN.
4. Include someone in a deal that makes money
We had to CUT the police IN on the deal to avoid trouble.
5. Mix fat and flour until the combine
CUT the butter IN with the flour.
Cut it out
: Stop your unfair or unreasonable behavior
Will you two idiots CUT IT OUT and keep quiet.
The telephone's been CUT OFF because we didn't pay the bill.
2. Isolate or make inaccessible
The heavy snow has blocked many roads and CUT OFF a number of villages.
I'm CUTTING OUT salt from my diet.
2. When an engine or motor stops
The car CUT OUT at the traffic lights just as they went green.
3. Cut a picture or similar from a magazine, etc
I CUT some pictures OUT to use as visual aids.
Cut out on
: Let down, snub
Although he'd promised to help, the star CUT OUT ON the charity when offered more money.
1. Cut into smaller pieces
After cutting the tree down, the logger CUT it UP into logs.
2. Drive into a neighboring lane, directly in front of another vehicle
I was just driving onto the motorway slip-road, when a red Mini CUT me UP and I had to brake suddenly to avoid an accident.
Her reaction really CUT me UP.
4. Have a lot of small injuries
I CUT my hand UP when I broke the glass.
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