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 R :

Rack up : Acquire a lot of something

He's RACKED UP a number of convictions for speeding.

Rain down on : Fall in large numbers

Bombs RAINED DOWN ON the city all night.

Rake it in : Make a lot of money

It's the only shop in the area and they're RAKING IT IN.

Rake up : Bring something back to people's attention

The press has RAKED UP some scandals from her past.

Ramp up : Increase price, speed or power of something

The company has RAMPED its prices UP because of higher oil prices.

Rat on :

1. Inform authorities about someone's wrongdoings

She RATTED ON her neighbours to the police because they were smuggling alcohol from France.

2. Fail to keep a promise

He always RATS ON his promises.

Rat out : Inform the authorities about someone

He RATTED me OUT to the police.

Rat through : Look for something hurriedly

I RATTED THROUGH the papers on my desk but couldn't find the letter.

Ratchet up : Increase

The media are trying to RATCHET UP the pressure on the president.

Rattle off : Quote figures rapidly

The media are trying to RATCHET UP the pressure on the president.

Reach out : Stretch your arm to get something

I REACHED OUT and caught the ball.

Reach out for : Try to achieve something difficult

They are REACHING OUT FOR major economic reforms.

Reach out to :

1. Ask for help

I REACHED OUT TO you when I was in trouble and you were a great help.

2. Offer help

Charities are REACHING OUT TO those who lost their homes in the floods.

3. Try to communicate and establish good relations with people

The candidates are REACHING OUT TO the poor to get their votes.

Read off : Read a list aloud for someone to write down

I READ OFF the figures and she wrote them down in her notebook.

Read out : Read aloud rather than silently

The teacher READ OUT the names of the students who'd passed.

Read up on : Research

I've been READING UP ON Japan as I'm going to live there next year.

Reckon on : The minimum expected

Jeff says we can RECKON ON there being at least fifty people there tonight.

Reel in :

1. Catch a fish on a line and pull the line to land

He REELED IN a ten-pound salmon.

2. Attract people, especially customers, to get them to do what you want them to

They hope the discounts will REEL people IN.

Reel off :

1. Quote statistics or facts rapidly

The minister REELED OFF a load of figures to support her position.

2. Score a lot of points or win a lot of games one after the other

They REELED OFF five victories and became the champions.

Reel out : Unwind

I REELED OUT the hose and watered the lawn.

Rein in : Control someone or something to stop them causing more trouble

They had to REIN the minister IN after her dreadful performance on TV.

Ride off : Go away on a bike, horse, etc

She got on her motorbike and RODE OFF.

Ride on : Depend on

His reputation is RIDING ON this deal working out.

Ride out : Survive a difficult time

They managed to RIDE OUT the recession.

Ride up : Move higher on the body (of clothes)

Her skirt RODE UP when she sat down.

Ring back : Return a phone call

I phoned and left a message this morning but she still hasn't RUNG me BACK.

Ring off : Finish a phone conversation

Dave RANG OFF guiltily when he saw his boss coming.

Ring up : Telephone

Helen RANG me UP earlier.

Rip off : Charge excessively or obtain money unfairly

Tourists get RIPPED OFF a lot when they don't speak the language.

Roll back :

1. Retreat

The army ROLLED BACK when they came under attack.

2. Reduce or remove

The government wants to ROLL BACK the freedom of the press.

Roll in :

1. Arrive somewhere, especially if late

They ROLLED IN very drunk at three o'clock in the morning.

2. Arrive in large numbers, for military vehicles

The tanks ROLLED IN and took control of the capital city.

Roll on : When something continues to happen

The competition ROLLED ON despite the administrative problems.

Roll on! : Said when you can't wait for something nice in the future

Roll on Friday! It's been a dreadful week.

Roll out : Launch or introduce a new product, initiative, etc.

The company ROLLED OUT its takeover plans last week.

Roll up : To appear in large numbers for an event

Thousands ROLLED UP to see the stars at the film premiere.

Roll up! : An imperative used to attract people to a public event

Roll up! Come and see the circus tonight.

Romp in : Win easily

In the first race, the favourite ROMPED IN.

Romp through : Do something easily or quickly

We ROMPED THROUGH the tasks because they were so simple.

Room in : To keep a mother and baby together after the birth

Nowadays, most hospitals have a policy of ROOMING IN mothers and their babies.

Root about : Look in a place to try to find something

He ROOTED ABOUT in his briefcase, trying to find a pen.

Root around : Look in a place to try to find something

I ROOTED AROUND my flat trying to find the letter.

Root for : Support

Everyone was ROOTING FOR Arsenal to win the Champions League.

Root out :

1. Look for and find

The police ROOTED OUT the informer.

2. Find the source of a problem and remove it

They are trying to ROOT OUT the troublemakers.

Root up : Dig a plant out of the ground

He ROOTED UP the plants and replanted them.

Rope in : Get somebody to help

The teacher ROPED her students IN to carry her stuff when she had to change classroom.

Rough up : Assault

The mugger ROUGHED him UP when he refused to hand his wallet over.

Round off : Finish something in a satisfactory manner

Winning the FA Cup ROUNDED OFF a wonderful season for Arsenal.

Row back : Retreat from a position

The prime minister refused to ROW BACK and lost the vote.

Rub along : Have a reasonably good relationship

They're not friends, but we RUB ALONG.

Rub down :

1. Dry or clean something with a cloth

She RUBBED the horse DOWN with a towel after riding it.

2. Massage or rub someone to help them relax

The trainer RUBBED her DOWN after the race.

Rub in : Apply a substance like cream or ointment and rub it until it is absorbed

He applied the steroid cream and RUBBED it IN.

Rub it in : Emphasise how bad a situation is to make someone feel worse

Even though the minister had resigned, the press RUBBED IT IN by publishing more details of the scandal.

Rub off on : Pass a quality or characteristic to people

His enthusiasm RUBS OFF ON everyone around him.

Rub out :

1. Delete ink or pencil with an eraser

He RUBBED OUT the figure and wrote the correct one in.

2. Kill

The gangsters RUBBED him OUT for stealing from them.

Rub up against : Touch someone in a sensual or sexual way

The cat RUBBED UP AGAINST my leg purring.

Rub up on : Revise

I need to RUB UP ON my Portuguese before I go to Brazil.

Rule out : Exclude a possibility

The police have RULED OUT suicide and are treating it as a case of murder.

Run across : Meet or find accidentally

I RAN ACROSS an old friend in the library.

Run away : Escape from people chasing you

He RAN AWAY from his attackers.

Run down :

1. Hit a pedestrian with a vehicle

The minicab RAN him DOWN on the zebra crossing.

2. Lose energy or power

You should only recharge the battery when it has fully RUN DOWN.

Run for : Campaign for a position

She's thinking about RUNNING FOR the presidency.

Run in :

1. Arrest, take to police station for questioning

They RAN him IN last night.

2. Drive a new car carefully in order not to damage the engine

She RAN the car IN for a thousand miles.

3. Pay a casual visit

We RAN IN and chatted for an hour.

4. Insert

He RAN a graph IN next to the text.

Run into :

1. Cost

The project has RUN INTO millions of dollars without any prospect of a return on this investment.

2. Meet by accident

I RAN INTO James in a bar in the City on Friday.

Run off : Make photocopies

Could you RUN OFF two hundred copies of this report, please?

Run on : Be powered by

The van RUNS ON diesel.

Run out of : Have none left

We've RUN OUT OF sugar; I'm going to the shops for some.

Run over :

1. Explain quickly

Could you RUN OVER that point again; I'm afraid I didn't quite understand it.

2. Hit with a vehicle

The driver couldn't stop in time and RAN the fox OVER when it ran in front of his car.

3. Exceed a time limit

The meeting RAN OVER by twenty minutes.

Run through :

1. Practise a dramatic work like a play quickly

The cast RAN THROUGH the play the day before it opened to the public.

2. Stab or wound deeply with a knife, sword, etc.

The musketeer RAN his enemy THROUGH with a sword and killed him.

Run to :

1. Go to someone for help

Whenever he gets into debt, he RUNS TO his parents for help.

2. Include in things you like

His musical tastes RUN TO the Residents, who are hated by most people.

3. Have enough money to buy something, often negative

Things are a bit tight and won't RUN TO going abroad for a holiday.

Run up :

1. Move quickly to where someone is

He RAN UP next to me and started shouting.

2. Hoist, raise a flag

They RAN UP the Union Jack.

3. Do or make something very quickly

He RAN UP a few examples for them to look at.

4. Spend a lot of money on credit

He RAN UP a lot of bills at the hotel.

Run up against : Encounter problems, often unexpected

They RAN UP AGAINST a lot of opposition to the construction.

Run up on : Approach someone without their knowing

Robert was sitting in his car and a guy RAN UP ON him and shot through the car but missed.

Run with : Keep company, normally bad

She RUNS WITH some dodgy characters.

Rush into : Do something too quickly

They don't want to be RUSHED INTO giving an answer and have asked for more time.

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