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.

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 F :

Face off : Confront

The company FACED OFF the competition.

Face up to : Accept an unpleasant truth

Many people find it hard to FACE UP TO the fact that they are getting old.

Faff about : Behave indecisively

He told her to stop FAFFING ABOUT and make her mind up.

Faff around : Behave indecisively

She told him to stop FAFFING AROUND and make his mind up.

Fall about : Laugh a lot

We FELL ABOUT when we heard what she'd done.

Fall apart :

1. Break into pieces

The box FELL APART when I picked it up.

2. Become emotionally disturbed and unable to behave normally

He FELL APART when they sacked him.

Fall back : Retreat

The army FELL BACK after losing the battle.

Fall back on : Be able to use in an emergency

It was good to have some money in the bank to FALL BACK ON when I lost my job.

Fall behind : Make less progress

I was ill for a week and FELL BEHIND with my work.

Fall down :

1. Fall on the ground

I slipped on the ice and FELL DOWN.

2. Have a weak point

The argument FALLS DOWN when you look at how much it'll cost.

Fall for :

1. Be attracted to somebody, fall in love

He FELL FOR her the moment their eyes met.

2. Believe a lie or a piece of deception

He FELL FOR my story and allowed me yet another extension for the submission of my thesis.

Fall in : Collapse

The ceiling FELL IN hurting a lot of people.

Fall into : Start doing something unplanned

I just FELL INTO my job when an opportunity came up.

Fall off : Decrease

The membership FELL OFF dramatically when the chairperson resigned.

Fall out :

1. Argue and be on bad terms with someone

They FELL OUT over the decision and hardly speak to each other any more.

2. Lose hair

He's started getting worried about baldness because his hair is FALLING OUT rather quickly.

Fall over : Fall on the ground

I slipped on the ice and FELL OVER.

Fall through : Be unsuccessful

The plans FELL THROUGH when planning permission was refused.

Fall under : Become controlled

At first he was independent, but then he FELL UNDER their influence.

Farm out : Give or contract work to someone else

The company wants to FARM OUT their maintenance.

Fart about : Waste time doing silly things

The manager was angry because the staffs were FARTING ABOUT.

Fart around : Waste time doing pointless things

We were really bored in the lecture so we started FARTING AROUND.

Fasten down : Tie something so that it doesn't move

We FASTENED it DOWN to keep the wind from blowing it away.

Fasten on : Give attention to something that confirms your beliefs

They have FASTENED ON the speech as a source of inspiration.

Fasten onto :

1. Follow someone closely, normally when they don't want your company

He FASTENED ONTO the minister on his visit and asked him repeatedly about the scandal.

2. Give attention to something that confirms your beliefs

They FASTEN ONTO any figures that they think can support their case.

Fasten up : Close, attach

FASTEN UP your seatbelts.

Fathom out : Understand something

I couldn't FATHOM OUT what she wanted from me.

Fatten up : Give an animal a lot to eat to make it fat

They FATTEN the cows UP before slaughtering them.

Fawn on : Praise someone in an excessive way to get their favour or something from them

He's always FAWNING ON his boss to try to get promoted.

Fawn over : Praise someone in an excessive way to get their favour or something from them

She FAWNED OVER the inspectors in the hope that they would give her a good grade.

Feed off :

1. Eat a food as part of an animals diet

The gecko FEEDS OFF mosquitoes and other insects.

2. Use something to your advantage

He FEEDS OFF people's fear of crime to get them to support his proposals.

Feed on :

1. Grow stronger

The opposition party's FEEDING ON the government's weaknesses.

2. Consume in an animal's diet

The bats FEED ON insects.

3. Give someone a particular food

He FEEDS his cat ON dry food.

Feed up : Give someone a lot of food to restore their health, make them bigger, etc

She's been ill for a fortnight so we're FEEDING her UP.

Feel up : Touch sexually, grope

Someone FELT me UP in the club as I was trying to get to the bar.

Feel up to : Feel capable of doing something

I'm so tired. I don't think I FEEL UP TO going out tonight.

Fend for : Take care of yourself or someone with help from other people

The children had to FEND FOR themselves after their parents died.

Fend off :

1. Resist something successfully

He managed to FEND OFF the criticism in the press.

2. Push an attacker away

She FENDED OFF the dog when it attacked her.

Ferret out : Search and discover something

The investigation finally managed to FERRET OUT the truth.

Fess up :

1. Confess, admit something reluctantly

The company FESSED UP after they were exposed in the newspapers.

2. Give

FESS UP your share of the bill.

Fess up to : Confess, admit reluctantly to something

They FESSED UP TO the crime.

Fiddle about : Waste time doing silly things, or doing things unsuccessfully

We spent the whole afternoon FIDDLING ABOUT with the computer but couldn't get it to work.

Fiddle around :

1. Waste time doing silly things, or unsuccessful things

I FIDDLED AROUND with the phone but couldn't get any signal.

2. Make small movements with your hands

He FIDDLED AROUND for something in his pockets.

Fiddle away : Waste time

He FIDDLED AWAY the afternoon.

Fight back :

1. Defend yourself, resist an attack

The army attacked the town and the inhabitants FOUGHT BACK fiercely.

2. Try to control and emotion and keep it hidden

He tried to FIGHT BACK the tears when he heard the news of her death.

Fight it out : Struggle to see who wins, both by arguing or fighting

Their FIGHTING IT OUT to see who will become the next CEO.

Fight off :

1. Fight an attacker and force them back

The old lady managed to FIGHT the muggers OFF and they didn't get her purse.

2. Resist an illness or emotion

I'm FIGHTING OFF a cold.

Figure on : Plan, expect

What job do you FIGURE ON doing when you graduate?

Figure out : Find the answer to a problem

The police couldn't FIGURE OUT how the burglars had got into the warehouse.

File away : Put a document in the correct place for storage in a filing system

I FILED a copy of the letter AWAY for my records.

Fill in :

1. Complete a form

I FILLED IN the application form and posted it off.

2. Substitute someone at work

She's just had a baby, so we have hired someone to FILL IN for her.

Fill in for : Substitute

I was away for a few days, so they had to get someone to FILL IN FOR me.

Fill in on : Give someone information

I'm sorry I missed the meeting; could you FILL me IN ON what happened.

Fill out : Complete a form

I FILLED OUT the application form and mailed it.

Fill up : Fill something completely

I stopped at the garage and FILLED UP with petrol.

Filter in : Move into a lane of traffic without making other cars stop

The slip lane allows traffic to FILTER IN at the junction.

Filter out : Remove something unwanted

It FILTERS OUT all the impurities and chemicals in tap water so that it tastes better.

Find out : Discover

I went to the library to FIND OUT all I could about the life and work of Joe Meek.

Finish off : Finish completely

They FINISHED OFF all the chocolates and had to go to the all-night garage to buy some more.

Fink on : Give away secrets about someone

He FINKED ON her to the authorities.

Fink out : Fail to keep a promise, arrangement, etc

He said he'd come with us then FINKED OUT at the last minute.

Fire away : Ask questions

What do you want to know? FIRE AWAY and I'll tell you.

Fire off :

1. Send quickly, angrily or many (letter, emails, etc)

He FIRED OFF an email complaining about the report.

2. Shoot, fire a gun (usually repeatedly)

The police FIRED OFF several rounds and killed the man.

Fire up :

1. Start a computer

She FIRED UP the computer and printed out a hard copy of the files.

2. Excite, become excited

Everyone was FIRED UP and desperate to get it finished in time.

Firm up : Make things clearer in a negotiation or discussion

We need to FIRM UP some aspects of the contract before we sign it.

Fish for : Try to get some information or to get someone to say something

He's always FISHING FOR compliments.

Fish out :

1. Remove something from a bag, pocket, etc

She reached into her handbag and FISHED some coins OUT.

2. Remove from water, such as the sea, rivers, etc

It's fallen in the pool- I'll have to FISH it OUT.

Fit in :

1. Get on in a group of people

I didn't FIT IN with the other people working there so I left and found another job.

2. Have enough time or space for something

I didn't have time to FIT IN another appointment.

Fit into : Become part of

Their ideas didn't FIT INTO our plans.

Fit up :

1. Frame someone- make them look guilty of something they haven't done

The police FITTED him UP for dealing drugs.

2. Provide equipment

They FITTED us UP with the latest IT.

Fix up : Make an arrangement

He FIXED UP an appointment for me to see a specialist.

Fizzle out : End in an unsuccessful way

The campaign started well, but FIZZLED OUT when they ran out of money.

Flag down : Signal at a vehicle to get it to stop

The police officer FLAGGED the car DOWN because it didn't have its headlights on.

Flag up : Raise an issue, or highlight its importance

We should FLAG UP working conditions at the meeting.

Flake out : Fall asleep from exhaustion

I worked till midnight then FLAKED OUT.

Flame out : Fail

The company FLAMED OUT in the recession.

Flame up : Burn brightly

The wood FLAMED UP in the fire.

Flare out : Get angry suddenly

He FLARED OUT when he saw the dreadful report.

Flare up : When trouble suddenly appears

The argument FLARED UP when he was rude to them.

Flesh out : Add more details or information

The recent government report FLESHED OUT the draft proposals.

Flick over : Change TV channels quickly

She FLICKED OVER to see if the news had started.

Flick through :

1. Change TV channels repeatedly

I FLICKED THROUGH the channels to see if there was anything worth watching.

2. Look through something quickly

I FLICKED THROUGH the magazine and decided to buy it.

Flip off : Extend your middle finger as a gesture of contempt

When the police were walking away, he FLIPPED them OFF.

Flip out : Become very excited and lose control

He FLIPPED OUT when he won the final.

Flip through : Look quickly through a magazine, book, etc

I FLIPPED THROUGH the latest issue of the magazine in the shop and decided to buy it.

Flog off : Sell something cheaply to get rid of it

The council FLOGGED OFF the land cheaply to a developer who had close links to a few of the councillors.

Floor it : Drive a vehicle as fast as possible

She FLOORED IT when the police arrived.

Flounce off : Leave a place or walk away from someone angrily

He FLOUNCED OFF when they laughed at him.

Flounce out : Leave a place angrily

He FLOUNCED OUT when the press started criticising him.

Fly about : Circulate (rumours, etc)

The rumour has been FLYING ABOUT for the past week, but no one has confirmed it.

Fly around : Circulate (rumours, etc)

There are a lot of stories FLYING AROUND about her past.

Fly at :

1. Attack

The dog FLEW AT the cat when it came into the garden.

2. Criticise or shout angrily

He FLEW AT them for not trying hard enough.

Fly by : When time appears to move quickly

As I get older, the years just FLY BY.

Fly into : Change emotion quickly

He FLEW INTO a rage.

Fob off :

1. Make or persuade someone to accept something


2. Lie or deceive someone

He FOBBED us OFF with a really stupid excuse.

Fob off on : Make or persuade someone to accept something you don't want

I FOBBED the work ON the others.

Fob off onto : Make or persuade someone to accept something you don't want

I FOBBED the fake note ONTO a shopkeeper.

Fob off with : Make or persuade someone to accept something of lower quality than they wanted

He FOBBED her OFF WITH some fake gold.

Focus on : Concentrate

The report FOCUSES ON the company's weak points.

Fold up : Make a sheet of paper smaller

Darren FOLDED UP the letter and put it in an envelope.

Fool around :

1. Not be serious

The teacher was angry because the classes were FOOLING AROUND.

2. Be unfaithful

She suspects her husband is FOOLING AROUND with one of her friends.

Forge ahead :

1. Make a lot of progress in a short time

We've been FORGING AHEAD with the work and should be finished well before the deadline.

2. Move forwards very quickly

She FORGED AHEAD of the other runners and won.

Freak out : Become very disturbed or angry

She FREAKED OUT completely when she didn't get the grades to get into university.

Freeze out :

1. Shut out or exclude by unfriendly treatment

They tried to FREEZE me OUT of the conversation.

2. Force to retire or withdraw from membership, a job, etc

After Jim was FROZEN OUT of the case, they hired a new lawyer.

Freeze over : Become covered with ice (lake, river, pond, etc)

The winter was very severe and the lake FROZE OVER.

Freeze up :

1. Be blocked with ice

The pipes all FROZE UP so no water came through.

2. Stop working because the parts of a machine won't move

The gears had FROZEN UP.

3. When a computer stops working

The computer FROZE UP; it showed me the blue screen of death and I couldn't reboot.

4. Be paralysed with fear

WE FROZE UP when we heard the window break.

Freshen up :

1. Wash quickly and improve appearance

I'm going to the bathroom to FRESHEN UP before they arrive.

2. Add more alcohol to a glass before it is empty

Here, let me FRESHEN UP your drink.

3. Quickly improve the appearance of something

The magazine gives you tips on how to FRESHEN UP your home cheaply.

Front for : Represent someone, especially when covering illegal or wrongful activities

The solicitor FRONTS FOR a number of criminal gangs.

Front off : Confront someone and let them know you are prepared to fight

The two guys FRONTED each other OFF, but someone managed to calm them down before it got out of hand.

Front onto : Face (of a building)

My house FRONTS ONTO the main square.

Front out : Face up to someone, withstand criticism

He accused her of lying, but she FRONTED him OUT.

Front up :

1. Appear somewhere for a short time

I hate these occasions, but I'll FRONT UP for the first half.

2. Advance cash for something

She FRONTED UP the money we needed.

Frown on : Disapprove

He FROWNS ON people making personal calls at work.

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