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 W :

Wade in :

1. Start something or get involved, often without thinking or to forcefully

He just WADED IN without listening to what anyone had to say.

2. Attack

The hooligans WADED IN when they saw fans from the other team.

Wade into : Become embroiled or involved in a situation, without thinking or planning usually

They WADED INTO the negotiations and the deal collapsed.

Wade through : Get to the end of something with difficulty

It took me ages to WADE THROUGH the book.

Wait about : Wait somewhere doing nothing

I WAITED ABOUT for an hour, but they didn't come.

Wait around : Wait somewhere doing nothing

They were just WAITING AROUND to see if anything was going to happen.

Wait behind : Stay somewhere after other people have left

I WAITED BEHIND to ask the lecturer a question.

Wait in : Stay at home because someone is going to visit

I WAITED IN for the guy to fix the TV.

Wait on :

1. Serve people in a restaurant

They have two people WAITING ON each table.

2. Sell goods in a shop

He WAITS ON customers in an electronics store.

3. Provide someone with everything they need or want

He has a butler who WAITS ON him.

4. Wait for a result before being able to make a decision

They're WAITING ON the results of the vote before taking a final decision.

Wait out : Wait till something has finished, usually something unpleasant

We'll have to WAIT OUT this uncertainty.

Wait up : Not go to bed because you are waiting

I was worried and WAITED UP until they got home safe and sound.

Wait up! : Stop (imperative)

Wait up! I need to talk to you.

Wait upon :

1. Provide someone with what they require

They used to have servants WAITING UPON them.

2. Wait for a result before being able to make a decision

They must WAIT UPON the outcome of the match before they know who they'll be playing.

Wake up : Stop sleeping

I WOKE UP at half past six this morning.

Walk away from : Leave something you don't like

You can't just WALK AWAY FROM your problems.

Walk away with : Win easily

She WALKED AWAY WITH the first prize.

Walk in on : Enter somewhere unexpectedly and see something

He WALKED IN ON them planning to sack him.

Walk into :

1. Get work without effort

He WALKED INTO a great job straight after university.

2. Be unaware of the presence of something and either enter it (a trap) or bump into it (an obstruction)

You WALKED INTO that one [You became victim to a trap I set] or I WALKED INTO a door and broke my nose.

Walk off : Go for a walk to reduce the effects of an illness or bad feeling

I tried to WALK OFF my hangover.

Walk off with :

1. Win easily

He WALKED OFF WITH the award.

2. Take something without permission or steal

Someone WALKED OFF WITH my umbrella so I got soaked.

Walk on : Continue walking

I saw the accident but just WALKED ON as I didn't want to have to give a statement.

Walk out :

1. Leave work because of a dispute with the management

The workers WALKED OUT because the felt that safety wasn't being handled correctly.

2. Leave a place angrily or because you are not satisfied

The film was a bore so I WALKED OUT halfway through.

Walk out on : Leave somebody angrily

He WALKED OUT ON his wife last year.

Walk up : Go to someone

A man WALKED UP and asked me the time.

Want out : Want to leave a relationship or arrangement

Jackie wasn't happy with her marriage and WANTED OUT.

Warm up : Do exercises before a sport

The team WARMED UP half an hour before the volleyball match.

Wash away : When floods or waves completely remove a structure, building, etc.

The ice cream stall on the beach was WASHED AWAY in the storm last night.

Wash down : Drink in order to swallow something solid

I WASHED the antibiotics DOWN with a glass of water.

Wash out : Rain so heavily that an event has to be cancelled

The rain WASHED OUT the championship final.

Wash over : Suddenly experience a strong emotion

He felt numb as grief WASHED OVER him.

Wash up :

1. Clean everything used to prepare food and eat it

The children WASHED UP after lunch.

2. When something in the sea or river is left on the shore or bank

After the crash, several bodies WASHED UP on the beach.

Watch out : Be careful (imperative)

Watch out- there's ice on the road.

Watch out for : Be careful of something

WATCH OUT FOR bats in the caves; many have rabies.

Watch over : Keep an eye on something or someone to check that there's no trouble

The lecturer WATCHED OVER the students as they did the experiment.

Water down : Make something weaker and less effective

The Freedom of Information Act was WATERED DOWN by the Government and didn't give ordinary people much access to official data files.

Wean off : Slowly stop a dependency on something

We will have to WEAN him OFF his obsession.

Wear away : Erode, remove gradually

The lawn has been WORN AWAY by people walking across it and it's just bare soil now with hardly a blade of grass.

Wear down : Make something weaker

The stress of my job is WEARING me DOWN.

Wear off : Stop having an effect

The anaesthetic WORE OFF and my tooth started hurting.

Wear out : Use something until it stops working

She played the video so many times that she WORE the tape OUT.

Weed out : Remove, get rid of

The company WEEDED OUT the unsuccessful sales reps.

Weigh in :

1. Have a certain weight (in sports like boxing)

The champion WEIGHED IN at 120 kilos.

2. Enter an argument forcefully

He disliked the plan and WEIGHED IN with some heavy criticism.

Weigh up : Assess

They WEIGHED the pros and cons UP carefully before deciding.

While away : Spend time doing something because you have nothing better to do

We WHILED a couple of hours AWAY playing computer games.

Whip out : Remove quickly

The police officer WHIPPED OUT her radio and called for back-up.

Whip through : Do something quickly


Whip up :

1. Make food quickly

We got back late and WHIPPED UP dinner.

2. Mix liquid food quickly to make it thick and creamy

I WHIPPED UP the egg whites.

3. Make people feel more strongly about something

The boss tried to WHIP UP some support for her new policies.

Whisk away : Take to another place quickly

The police WHISKED the minister AWAY when the trouble started.

White out : Use correction fluid to cover a mistake in a written text

Could you pass the Tippex? I need to WHITE this mistake OUT.

Wig out : Become excited and lose control

He WIGGED OUT when he heard that he had failed.

Wimp out : Not be brave enough to do something

I was going to have the hottest curry on the menu, but I WIMPED OUT and had a mild lamb Korma instead.

Wind down :

1. Relax

I'm going to WIND DOWN in the country this weekend and do nothing.

2. Slowly close a business or organization

They WOUND the committee DOWN after the inquiry.

Wind on : Forward a film or tape to a certain point

He WOUND the video ON to show us the scene.

Wind up :

1. Close a company because it's unprofitable

The company was WOUND UP when the creditors demanded payment.

2. Tighten the spring in a watch or clock to make it work

I forgot to WIND UP my alarm clock and overslept.

3. Irritate someone or increase their stress level, especially if done deliberately

The children are really WINDING me UP.

Winkle out : Find or get something that takes a great deal of effort

It took me a while to WINKLE the truth OUT of him.

Wipe out :

1. Make someone very tired

Revising for the exam last night WIPED me OUT.

2. Kill all of a population, make extinct

A meteor crashing into the planet WIPED the dinosaurs OUT.

Wire up : Make electrical connections

She WIRED her new stereo system UP as soon as she got home.

Wise up : Stop being stupid

His supervisor told him to WISE UP and start following the rules or else he'd lose his job.

Word up : Give someone information, advice

The solicitor WORDED her UP client before the police interview, so they go very little out of him.

Word up! : A phrase that was used a greeting

'Word up! You OK?'

Work off : Exercise to remove stress or weight

She goes to the gym to WORK OFF her anger.

Work on : Improve or develop

Scientists are WORKING ON genetically modified crops and foods.

Work out :

1. End nicely

Things were going wrong for them but fortunately it all WORKED OUT in the end.

2. Find the answer or solution

I couldn't WORK OUT all the answers to the crossword puzzle.

Wrap up :

1. Cover in paper

They WRAPPED UP the presents then put a ribbon around them.

2. Dress warmly

WRAP UP carefully or you'll catch your death of cold outside in that rain.

3. Finish

That WRAPS things UP, so we'll end this meeting.

Wriggle out of : Avoid doing something in a way other people don't like

He always manages to WRIGGLE OUT OF any extra work we get.

Write down : Make notes

I WROTE her mobile number DOWN on a scrap of paper and I've lost it.

Write in : Send a letter to a TV station, etc.

They asked viewers to WRITE IN with their opinions and suggestions.

Write off : Destroy a car in an accident

He WROTE the car OFF in an accident on the motorway.

Write out : Write something completely

I WROTE OUT my notes in full to help me remember them.

Write up : Make complete written version

I WROTE UP the report and submitted it.

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