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 H :

Hack around : Waste time

I have been HACKING AROUND all morning because I can not get down to doing any revision.

Hack into : Break into a computer system

He HACKED INTO the government database and stole a lot of data.

Hack off : Annoy

He HACKS me OFF with his endless complaining.

Ham up : Perform or act in an excessive way to attract attention or amuse people

He HAMMED the part UP to get the audience to laugh.

Hammer away at : Work relentlessly

She HAMMERED AWAY AT her PC all night and finished the project.

Hammer into : Repeat something over a period of time to make someone remember it

He HAMMERED the rules INTO me.

Hammer out : Negotiate and reach an agreement

They HAMMERED OUT their differences and got the contract signed.

Hand back : Return

The police officer checked my licence, then HANDED it BACK.

Hand down :

1. Pass on to the next generation

The jewellery has been HANDED DOWN in my family for generations.

2. Give a formal decision

The court HANDED DOWN its ruling yesterday.

Hand in : Submit work for appraisal

I HANDED my homework IN late as usual.

Hand on :

1. Give to someone else

I HANDED the job ON to a colleague.

2. Transmit knowledge to the next generation

The secrets have been HANDED ON from generation to generation.

Hand out : Distribute

The teacher HANDED OUT the worksheet to the class.

Hand over : Give

The robbers told the clerk to HAND OVER all the money.

Hang about : Spend time somewhere not doing much

They HANG ABOUT the station most of the day.

Hang about : Stop what you're doing and pay attention to me

HANG ABOUT! We're not allowed to do this.

Hang around : Stay in a place

They HANG AROUND the station most of the day.

Hang back : Not move forwards to avoid doing something

When they raced towards the entrance, I HUNG BACK till it was less crowded.

Hang back from : Delay or avoid doing something

They were HANGING BACK FROM making the final decision.

Hang in there : Persevere, not give up

We were doing badly, but we HUNG IN THERE till we finished.

Hang on :

1. Wait

Could you HANG ON for a moment till she's free?

2. Hold tightly

The driver told the passengers to HANG ON as the bus pulled off.

Hang onto : Keep

I HUNG ONTO my old records even though I never played them.

Hang out : Spend time socially

He HANGS OUT in the pub The Monarch; he's there most nights.

Hang out for : Wait or refuse to do something until you get what you want

She's HANGING OUT FOR a big raise.

Hang over : Worry or trouble

I have a lot of financial problem HANGING OVER my head.

Hang together : Work together when things are difficult

We have to HANG TOGETHER if we're going to finish this project.

Hang up : End a phone call

I lost my temper and HUNG UP.

Hang up on : End a phone call with someone

A telesales person called, so I said something rude and HUNG UP ON them.

Hang with : Spend time with

He has been HANGING WITH them for a few months.

Hanker after : Want something a lot, especially if you shouldn't want it or can't have it

I'm supposed to be on a diet and I can't stop HANKERING AFTER some chocolate.

Hanker for : Want something a lot, especially if you shouldn't want it or can't have it

I have always HANKERED FOR a soft-top car.

Harp on : Talk repeatedly about something

I was late twice last week and my boss keeps HARPING ON about it.

Have against : Dislike, disagree or hold a grudge (Usually negative)

I HAVE nothing AGAINST their proposals.

Have around : Entertain someone in your home

I HAD the neighbours AROUND for dinner last night.

Have down as : Think of someone or something in a particular way

I HAD her DOWN AS a liberal, but I was very wrong.

Have in :

1. Have a supply of something in a particular place

Do we HAVE any beer IN?

2. Get someone to do some work

We HAD the decorators IN last week.

3. Entertain people in your home

We HAD them IN last night for dinner.

Have it away : Have sex with someone, especially casual sex

She HAD IT AWAY with him last Friday.

Have it in for : Hold a grudge

He has HAD IT IN FOR me since I beat him last year.

Have it off : Have sex

They HAD IT OFF after the party.

Have it out with : Discuss or argue an issue to improve a situation

I'd been worried for ages, so I decided to HAVE IT OUT WITH them.

Have off : Take time off work

I HAD a couple of days OFF last week to relax.

Have on :

1. Be wearing

What did Jennie HAVE ON at the party?

2. Have an electronic device switched on

I HAVE my computer ON all the time.

3. Have an arrangement

I HAVE a lot of meetings ON next week.

4. Tease, deceive

They said they'd failed, but they were HAVING me ON.

5. Be in possession at a particular time

I HAVEN'T any money ON me, but I can get some from the ATM.

6. Know something about someone that could harm them

I HAVE a lot ON him because we used to work together.

Have over : Receive a guest

Shall we HAVE them OVER for dinner?

Have round : Entertain someone in your home

I HAD a few friends ROUND yesterday.

Have up : Make someone appear in court

They HAD him UP for armed robbery.

Head for : Move or travel towards

It's getting late- I'm HEADING FOR home.

Head off :

1. Stop someone or force them to change direction

The sheriff and his men HEADED the bandits OFF at the pass.

2. Prevent something bad happening

The company made a better offer to HEAD OFF the moves for a strike.

3. Leave somewhere to go to another place

After work, we all HEADED OFF to the pub.

Head out : Go out

We're HEADING OUT at seven, so don't be late.

Head up : Be in charge

He's HEADING UP the steering committee.

Heat up : Make food hot

He HEATED the soup UP in the microwave.

Help out : Give assistance

She really HELPED me OUT when I was going through my divorce.

Hit back : Attack or criticize

The president HIT BACK at her critics in a speech last night.

Hit for : Get someone to pay or donate money

They HIT the sponsors FOR a lot of money.

Hit it off : Have a good relationship from the first time you meet a person

We HIT IT OFF immediately and became firm friends.

Hit it off with : Like someone from the first time you meet them

I HIT IT OFF WITH her immediately.

Hit on :

1. Have an idea

I suddenly HIT ON the solution

2. Talk to someone to try to attract them sexually

She HIT ON him at the party and they went back to her house.

3. Ask for money

A beggar HIT ON me when I left the restaurant.

Hit out at : Respond angrily to criticism

The government HIT OUT AT the media for their negativity.

Hit up :

1. Inject drugs

She's been HITTING UP for years.

2. Ask someone for some money

He always tries to HIT me UP for money when we meet.

Hit up on : Inject drugs

He's been HITTING UP ON heroin for years.

Hit upon :

1. Have an idea

It took us ages to HIT UPON a solution.

2. Try to attract someone sexually

He tried to HIT UPON her at the pub.

Hit with : Surprise someone with some information or news

He HIT me WITH the details of their demands.

Hold against : Have a grudge against someone, or little respect

He was very rude, but I won't HOLD it AGAINST him.

Hold back :

1. Not show emotion

It was really hard to HOLD BACK the tears.

2. Prevent something moving forwards or progressing

Lack of funding HELD the project BACK.

3. Not disclose information or make it public

The government HELD BACK the findings of the report for fear of alienating voters.

Hold back from : Not allow yourself to do something I had to HOLD BACK FROM losing my temper with them.

Hold down :

1. Keep a job

He's so unreliable that he can never HOLD DOWN a job for more than a couple of months.

2. Stop someone or something from moving

It took four of us to HOLD him DOWN and stop the fight.

Hold forth : State your opinions about something, especially when talking for a long time and boringly

The manager HELD FORTH on the topic for about twenty minutes.

Hold off :

1. When bad weather doesn't appear

The rain HELD OFF until we'd got back home.

2. Stop someone from attacking or beating you

Chelsea couldn't HOLD their opponents OFF and lost the game.

Hold on :

1. Wait

Could you HOLD ON for a minute; she'll be free in a moment.

2. To hold tightly

We HELD ON as the bus started to move.

Hold on to : Hold tightly

I HELD ON TO my luggage while I was waiting fr the taxi so that it didn't get stolen.

Hold onto :

1. Keep as long as possible

It tried to HOLD ONTO my cash during the holiday so I could buy some duty free stuff on the way back.

2. Hold tightly

The mother HELD ONTO her daughter's hand to keep together in the crowd.

Hold out :

1. Resist

When the enemy attacked, they HELD OUT for six weeks.

2. Hold in front of you

I HELD OUT my hand when she walked in.

Hold out against : Try to reject

The staffs are HOLDING OUT AGAINST the plans to reduce the workforce.

Hold out for : Wait for something better or refuse something now for something better in the future

We are HOLDING OUT FOR a much better deal than the one offered.

Hold out on : Not pay someone or give them information

He's been HOLDING OUT ON me for weeks and I really need the money.

Hold over :

1. Delay

The meeting has been HELD OVER till Friday.

2. To continue something for longer than planned

It has been so successful that they have HELD it OVER for another fortnight.

Hold together : Not break up

The society managed to HOLD TOGETHER despite the crisis.

Hold up :

1. Delay when travelling

I was HELD UP by the terrible traffic and arrived half an hour late for my appointment.

2. Rob with violence or threats thereof

Two armed men HELD UP the bank in High Street this morning and got away with £75,000.

Hold with : Accept (usually negative)

I don't HOLD WITH their plans.

Home in on : Target

The government is HOMING IN ON benefit fraud.

Hone in on : Target, focus

The company HONED IN ON its rival and tried to take it over.

Hook up : Meet someone

We HOOKED UP at the conference.

Hook up to : Connect to a machine

He's HOOKED UP TO a ventilator in the hospital.

Hoon around : Act in a dangerous or reckless way, especially when driving fast

He was HOONING AROUND in his new car last night and the police pulled him.

Horse around : Not be serious

The classes were HORSING AROUND when the teacher came in and told them to sit down.

Hound out : Force someone out of a place, job, position, etc.

The press HOUNDED the minister OUT after the scandal broke.

Hunker down : Settle in a place as comfortably as possible to stay there

The troops HUNKERED DOWN in the building.

Hunt down : Search for someone to punish or kill them

The police HUNTED the killer DOWN.

Hunt out : Search until you find something

It took me ages to HUNT OUT the photos.

Hunt up : Search for and manage to find something

He HUNTED UP a copy the book in the British library.

Hush up : Try to keep something bad from becoming widely known

The company tried to HUSH UP the scandal, but it still got into the newspapers.

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