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10 English Words with the most multiple meanings

1. RUN

My dog loves to run about in the park (move quickly with legs)

She runs a very successful business (manages)

The bus company runs a regular weekend service (offer a service)


Don’t leave your car engine running/ try running the computer program and see if it
works (machine: working)

I always go for a 10k run in the mornings.
The play has had a successful run in the West End. (a period of time)
I do the school run every morning and my husband does it in the afternoon (a journey
that a train, ship, car and so on does regularly)

Verb Phrases

Her withdrawal meant that her opponent was given a clear run for the nomination
(you can progress without anyone stopping you)

He gave Tom a good run for his money (competing so well with someone that
they cannot defeat you)

He is on the run from the law (trying to escape or hide from the police)


Don’t forget to take an extra pair of shoes (move something or someone from one
place to another)
Take a deep breath ◆ James took a sip of his drink ◆ I took a quick look at the
audience (to perform an action or series of actions)
I took a course in origami at college ◆ I’ve taken my driving test three times (to
study or take an exam in a particular subject)

Verb Phrases

I like chocolate but I can take it or leave it (to not care whether you have, see or
do something – informal)

It takes all sorts (used for saying that you find someone’s behavior surprising
or strange but will accept it – spoken)

Take it from me, this restaurant is excellent. (used to emphasize that what you’re
saying is true and people should believe it – spoken)

(don’t obey rules or the law) When the news first broke. the penalties are high ◆ break the law. she turned professional (change and do something different) It has turned cold again (change and become something else) Oh no. he was nowhere to be found ◆ breaking news (if news breaks. TURN Verb      Noun    She turned around and smiled at me (change position) When you get to the junction. the company broke even. it becomes publicly known) Why don’t we break now and meet again after lunch? (stop what you’re doing for a period of time) Doctors and nurses often work very long hours without a break ◆ Let’s take/have a break.3. (when a company doesn’t make a profit or a loss)  I want to break free (as sung by Freddy Mercury – to escape from someone or something that is holding you or controls you) 4. is it my turn again to wash the dishes?! ◆ Is it my turn to roll the dice? (in a group and it’s your time to do something) The debate over drugs in sport took an unexpected turn yesterday ◆ The situation took a turn for the better/worse (a change in a situation) He took the wrong turn and that took him miles away from his destination (change of direction) . After years as an amateur dancer. Verb Phrases  He’s been breaking his back getting the house ready in time for the baby’s arrival (working very hard)  I think we’ve broken the back of this project now. turn right (change direction) She could not concentrate on her book. All she seemed to be doing was turning the pages without reading them. This could be the lucky break he’s always wanted (an opportunity that helps you achieve success) She decided to make the break from marketing after eighteen years (a time of major change in one’s life). (British English – to finish the hardest part of a task)  In their first year. BREAK Verb     Noun    Be careful that you don’t break those glasses (separate into pieces by dropping) If you break the speed limit.

(to decide the price or value of something) I have set the team three challenges/goals/objectives/tasks (to give someone something to achieve) a set of keys ◆ a set of guidelines ◆ a complete set ◆ a chess set (a group of things) the literary set ◆ the jet set ◆ a set of friends (a group of people that share the same interests) a film set ◆ a stage set (theatre. SET Verb      Noun    “Tea is served. setting the stage for a prolonged transport strike (create the conditions for something to happen)  They are a company that has set the standard for excellence in service (perform an activity to a level that other people need to achieve)  Dinner will be ready soon. Could you please set the table? (put cutlery and plates on the table)  After lunch I set to work on the mountain of paperwork on my desk (start working in a determined and enthusiastic way) 6. but I preferred the original version (to say something that you shouldn’t say in case you offend someone or you have no right to say it)  The mansion was built at the turn of the century (the time at the end of one century and the beginning of the next) 5. film – place where a film or play is made) Verb Phrases  The drivers’ demands were not met.Verb Phrases  He was stopped at every turn by the rigid rules (wherever or whenever someone tries to do something)  He did her a good turn by offering her the job (an action that helps someone – also applies in the opposite “a bad turn”)  I hope I’m not speaking out of turn. (put something in a position) I’ve set the alarm for 6am ◆ You can set the iPhone so that it does an automatic backup (to make equipment ready) Have you set a date for the wedding? (to decide when something will happen) The Bank of England sets the interest rate ◆ They set the price of the house too high.” he told them and set the tray on the table. GO Verb .

It has such a wonderful play on words (clever or funny use of a word that has two different meanings) Verb Phrases  If you play your cards right. he might offer you the job (informal – if you behave in a certain way. PLAY Verb    I play tennis every Saturday (take part in sport/game) The orchestra played beautifully tonight ◆ The tape was played in court (to make music/sound) She played the part of Blanche Dubois in the Streetcar named Desire (to have a part in a play or film) Noun and Noun Phrases  Have you seen the latest play at the theatre?   When the new policy comes into play. this is rather good (when you consider what things of the same type are like)  David will go far in life (to be successful in what you do)   She has decided to go it alone (to do something without depending on anyone for help) This time you have gone too far (to behave in a way that is unreasonable) 7.” she said playing for time (to deliberately delay something so that you have more time to think about what to do) . I can’t believe it’s already Friday (when time passes) Noun and Noun Phrases  Why don’t you have a go at writing this email ◆ I thought I’d give skiing a go this winter (an attempt to do something)  Don’t eat the whole thing in one do something successfully) Verb Phrases  As history books go.    I go to the gym every day ◆ I go to work by car ◆ Are you ready to go to lunch? (move or travel from one place to another) How are things going at work? ◆ I think the interview went well (to happen in a particular way) go blind/deaf/grey/bald – Louise went completely blind before she died ◆ go wild/crazy – I knew they would go crazy when they found out ◆ go bad/sour/rotten – The bananas have gone bad (change to another condition state. We haven’t stopped once! (British spoken . fewer people will have control (start to happen or have an effect) I love that line.used to say that something is full of activity) I’ve decided that I’m going to make a go of this business (informal .   It’s all go this morning. you might be successful in getting what you want)  “I just have to make a phone call. usually a worse one) This week’s gone so fast.

but it’s best to play it safe and cook them (avoid taking risks) 8. but it wasn’t up to much (British spoken – not very good)  It’s not like Sarah to be late. the system is up and running. (working effectively) . UP UP can be used in the following ways:  Adverb: Their voices could be heard up in our room ◆ Jean looked up at him ◆ I stood up  Preposition: He climbed up the stairs ◆ I set off up the road   Adjective: the up escalator after the verb ‘to be‘: He was up early this morning ◆Food prices are up ◆ I knew something was up Verb Phrases  We paid a lot of money for the hotel. trying to meet all our production deadlines (in a difficult situation)  He was up and about again two days after his operation (out of bed for example after an illness)  After a month of no internet. CUT Verb  You will need a sharp knife to cut the bread  Be careful you don’t cut your finger using that knife  The Government needs to cut interest rates to stimulate the economy (reduce/lower)  The accident cut (cut off) the oxygen to her brain ◆ All lines of communication have been cut (cutt off) ( stop something moving or working) A lot of the violent scenes were cut (cut out) from the film (make something shorter or remove)  Noun  She has a very deep cut in her finger and it is bleeding profusely  There have been some deep cuts in the sales budget  She always chooses the best cut of beef to serve at her restaurant (piece of meat) Verb Phrases  Independence in a relationship cuts both ways (it has both good and bad aspects)    They had to cut corners in order to complete the order (not to do a job as thoroughly as you should) Her agent cut a deal giving her 20% of the profits (make a business deal) We had to cut our holiday short because of the problems at work – (to reduce the time) 9. (Spoken – something bad is happening or there is something wrong)  We’ve really been up against it this year. They are probably fine raw. Something must be up.

◆ She handed me the phone (give something you’re holding in your hand to someone)  Jane handed the letter back to Doug (give back)    You need to hand in your completed reports by the end of today.used for asking what is wrong) 10. HAND Noun    It was a large farm with over 20 hired hands (someone who works on a farm or does physical work) Could you give me a hand to move this table? ◆ Would you like a hand with the washing up? (help someone) Let’s give the children a big hand for the wonderful show (to clap your hands to show you enjoyed a performance) Noun Phrases  I couldn’t lay my hands on a copy of the book (to manage to obtain something)     Economic stability go hand in hand with job creation (to exist together) I can’t agree to this because my hands are tied. ◆ He has handed in his notice/resignation (to give something to a person in authority) I am going to now hand out a copy of the sales report (to give something to a group) ◆ The office will not hand out employees’ telephone numbers (give information or advice) I’m now going to hand you over to James who will explain the new product launch (to stop speaking and pass over to someone else) ◆ She handed the keys over to Stella ◆ They formally handed over power to the new government last week (to give power or control to someone else) . What’s up? You’re very quiet today. I am up to my neck/ears/eyes in work.  I don’t know whether I will have the time to do this for you. (cannot do what you want because of rules or laws) She really has her hands full with the children (to be busy) The company is now in the hands of the receiver (to be responsible for it) Verb and Phrasal Verbs  Gerry handed me the document at the meeting. (Spoken.