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Account for: To explain how/why. To give reasons. ex. "How do you account for the increase in production costs?" Act on: To pursue. To take action because of information received. ex. "The military planned to act on the information they received." Act out: To react negatively to something. ex. "Teenagers often act out to express their feelings." Act up: To behave or function improperly. ex. "Facebook is acting up again." Add up: 1) To calculate a sum. ex. "I added up all your bills. You owe me $120." 2) To make sense. ex. "There's something about his story that doesn't add up. I don't think he's telling the truth." Add up to: To equal an amount. ex. "Our monthly expenses added up to $500." Allow for: To include. ex. "You have to allow for unexpected expenses in your budget." Ask around: To ask several people or more. ex. "Do you have change for a 20? No, but ask around, I'm sure someone does." Ask out: To ask to go on a date. ex. "I'm going to ask her out tomorrow." Ask over: To invite to one's home. ex. "I would ask him over for dinner, but I'm afraid he would eat too much." Attend to: To see about something (formal). ex. "I have to some business to attend to. I'll meet up with you later, John."
Back down: To retreat, relent. ex. "He didn't back down. He just kept on insulting me." Back off: Not follow a threat. To step back. ex. "The man threatened to call the cops, but he backed off when I said I would pay for the damages." Back out (of): To not keep (a promise, agreement,deal) ex. "The other investor backed out at the last second." Back up: (1) Move backward; Move in reverse. ex. "You still have some room to back up a bit." (2) To confirm a story, facts, or information; To support. ex. "If you don't believe me, ask Bill. He'll back me up." (3) To make a copy (computer data, etc.) Bail out on someone: To leave someone (especially when they need you). ex. "That man bailed on his family when they needed him most." ex. "The Democrats have a plan to bail out the automotive industry." Bail (someone) out: To save (someone). ex. "The Democrats have a plan to bail out the automotive industry." Bang up: To damage. ex. "He banged up his car pretty bad." Barge in: To enter, interrupting something. ex. "He barged in while we were eating dinner." Bawl out: To scold. ex. "Mary's mother bawled her out for being mean to her sister." Be after: To look for. ex. "The pirates are after the treasure." Be along: To arrive. ex. "He'll be along in a bit." Be down: To be depressed. ex. "I've been feeling a little down recently." Be down with: *very informal* To be on good terms with something/someone. To like/respect someone/something.
Be in on: To be a part of; to be involved with; to know about. ex. "They police are obviously in on the plan." Be off: (1) To be not quite right. ex. "The curry here is usually excellent, but today it's a little off." (2) To not be at work (To have a day off work) ex. "I'm off today. Let's do something fun!" Be on: To have a very good/successful performance (usually said of musicians, comics, and other entertainers) ex. If you go to a concert and a musician is playing or singing really well - you can say "He's really on tonight!" Be onto (someone): To realize what someone is doing; to figure out someone's game, trick, etc. ex. He thought that he had everyone fooled, but I was onto him. (I realized what he was doing) Be out of: To have none left. ex. We're out of milk. = We have no more milk. Be out to (do something): To want to (do something). To have the intention of (doing something) ex. "He's out to kill me!" Be up: To be awake. ex. "I'm sorry, he's not up yet." Be up to (something): To be doing (something); To have something planned. ex. "What are you up to?", "I can tell that he's up to something." Bear with (someone): To be patient with someone. ex. "Bear with me, I'll be done in about 10 minutes." Beat out: To finish ahead of. ex. "Sandra beat out all the other contestants and finished first in the race." Beat (someone) up: To physically harm (someone). ex. "What happened to you!? One of the school bullies beat me up today." Blare out: To say/sing something very loudly. Blast off: To leave the ground (when speaking about a rocket). Blow (someone) away: To impress someone greatly. ex. "We were blown away by her performance." 3
Blow (someone) off: To say no to someone (This term has a somewhat negative connotation). ex. "We invited them for dinner last weekend, but they just blew us off." Blow over: When speaking about a scandal, etc. - To stop becoming important. ex. "This scandal won't blow over any time soon." Blow up: To explode. To destroy by exploding. ex. "The car blew up after the gasoline caught fire. Thankfully no one was inside." Boil down to: To ammount to. ex. "What it boils down to is that I'm just not very interested." Border on: To be very close/similar to. ex. "His behavior borders on psychotic." Boss (someone) around: To tell someone what to do. ex. "I'm tired of her bossing me around!" Bounce back: To recover. ex. "The stock market will bounce back." Branch out: To explore new things, move into different areas (when speaking about a business, etc.) ex. "We were selling postcards, but we want to branch out into making envelopes." Break down: To stop working / functioning. ex. "My car broke down on the highway yesterday." Break in / Break into: To enter by using force (and breaking a lock, window, etc.) ex. "Someone broke into my apartment last night and stole all my CDs." Break out (from prison, etc.): To escape. ex. "Michael broke out of prison last week." Break up: (1)To disperse or scatter. ex. "The police had a hard time breaking up the crowd at the demonstration." (2) To end a personal relationship. ex. "Fiona and Colin are no longer together. They broke up last week." Brighten up: To become better, most often used in the phrase "Things will brighten up." Bring up: (1) To mention (as a topic of discussion). ex. "Don't bring up his relationship with his brother he's very sensitive about that." 4
(2) To raise. ex. "He was born in Houston, but he was brought up in Los Angeles." Brush off: To ignore. ex. "He brushed off every criticism." Brush up on / Bone up on (*not as popular*): To review/study thoroughly for a short time. ex. "I need to brush up on my French before my trip to Paris next month." Bump into (or run into) someone: To meet someone you know unexpectedly. ex. "I bumped into her at the party last night." Burn down: To completely destroy by fire. ex. "That house burned down last year." Burn out: To become exhausted (from doing something too long/too intensively, etc.); To become exhausted, unenthusiastic about a job due to boredom, stress, etc. Butt in: To impolitely interrupt (a conversation, an action). "Hey, don't butt in! Wait for your turn!" Buy into: To accept/believe/trust. "I'm not gullible. I'm not buying into what he says."
Call for: To require. ex. "You're pregnant? This calls for a celebration!" Call off: To cancel something. ex. "They called off the game because of the rain. Call up: When speaking of soldiers, etc. - Requested to report for duty. ex. "My brother was called up last week." Calm down: To relax; To make someone relax. ex. "Calm down, it's not as bad as you think!" Cancel out: To bring something back to zero by cancelling its effect with a reverse effect. ex. "The refund that we received was cancelled out by the increase in fees." Care for: 1) To nurse someone or something. ex. "He cared for his sick father for three years." 2) To like someone or something. ex. "I don't really care for Thai food." Carry off: Tp pull off. Carry on about: To continue in an annoying way. ex. "He kept carrying on about how expensive his car is." Carry out: To perform. ex. "Dr. Williams carried out the procedure." Cash in on (sth.): To profit, make money from sth. ex. "The basketball player wanted to cash in on his popularity by opening a sports bar." Catch on: To slowly start to understand. ex. "She caught on after a few minutes." Catch up: 1) To make up for lost time. ex. "I'm trying to catch up on my homework, since I was away from school for 2 weeks." 2) To talk to someone after not talking for a long time. ex. "Mary and I bumped into each other at the mall last week. We hadn't seen each other for a year, so we had a lot of catching up to do. Cave in: To give in. To accept after being pressured and finally convinced, etc. ex. "My brother finally caved in and bought the new t-shirt that everyone is wearing." 6
Chalk (something) up to: To blame (something) on; To give the reason for (something). ex. "Don't worry about losing your wallet. Just chalk it up to bad luck." Cheat on (someone): To be unfaithful (to one's husband, wife, girlfriend, etc.) Check in/into: To enter or register at a hotel, airport, etc. ex. "Guests can only check in after 11 AM." Check out: 1) To investigate, take a look at. ex. "Hey, check out this website - it's really cool!" 2) To leave a hotel, airport, etc. ex. "My wife checked out of the hospital yesterday." Cheer up: To become cheerful; To cheer someone up - To make someone feel better. ex. "A good song will always cheer me up when I'm feeling down." Chicken out: To initially want to do something, but then to not do it (to back out) due to fear. ex. "He was going to say something to the teacher, but he chickened out." Chill out: To telax. Chip in: To contribute. ex. "We all have to chip in to buy Robert a present." Clean out: To completely remove everything (from somewhere). ex. "I cleaned out my locker before I left for the summer." Clean up: To clean; To tidy up. Clear up: To become sunny. (weather) ex. "Wow, the weather really cleared up!" To make something clear, understandable. ex. "I didn't understand at first, but he cleared everything up for me." Close down: To close a place permanently. ex. "I was sad to find out that they're going to close down my favorite restaurant." Close in: To approach, come close (physically). ex. "The rebels were closing in on the city." Come about: To happen. 7
Come across: To find (by chance, etc.) ex. "I came across some of my old photos when I was cleaning my room." Come along: 1) To accompany someone. ex. "I'm going to the mall - You can come along if you like." 2) To progress. ex. "How's your project coming along." Come apart: To fall apart. To break. Come back: To return. ex. "What time are you coming back tonight?" Come by: To come over. To drop by. To pay a visit. To visit. ex. "He came by last night.", "What time should I come by?" Come down on: To criticize. ex. "The president really came down on opposition party members for failing to pass the bill." Come down with: To catch (an illness). ex. "She came down with the flu." Come forth: To appear. Come off as: To give the impression of being. ex. "He comes off as being quite successful." Come out: 1) To release (a book, CD, etc.) ex. "The Killers are coming out with a new CD." 2) To reveal to others that one is gay or lesbian. ex. "He came out to his parents last summer." Come to: To regain consciousness. Come up: To be raised (as a topic/issue during a conversation). ex. "That issue never came up during out conversation." Come up against: To encounter (a problem, an opponent, etc.) Come up with: To produce or create (an idea, a plan). ex. "The writer came up with a great plot for his new book." 8
Count on: To rely or depend on. ex. "I'm your best friend and you can always count on me." Cross out: To put lines through something written, drawn, etc. ex. "Cross out your name." Cut back on: To not spend as much money on. ex. "We'll have to back on certain things this month." Cut down on: To reduce. ex. "My brother is trying to cut down on smoking." Cut (someone) off: When driving: to drive into someone's lane, blocking their way; When speaking: To interrupt, stop someone when s/he is speaking. ex. "I can't believe how that driver cut me off!"
Dash off: To go or leave somewhere quickly. Also "to run off". ex. "She dashed off to the store before I had a chance to speak to her." Dawn on (somebody): To come to the realization; to realize. ex. "It never dawned on me that she might be unhappy = I never realized that she might be unhappy" Decide against (doing something): To decide not to (do something). ex. "He decided against joining the military." IMPORTANT: In 9
English, although it's correct to say "He decided *against* joining the military, you can't say "He decided *for* joining the military" - You have to say "He decided to join the military." Die down: To diminish in intensity. ex. "After the controversy died down, he was able to lead a normal life again." Die for (something): To really want (something). ex. "I'd die for some enchiladas right now." Dig in: To start eating. ex. "Dig in, boys. The food is getting cold!" Dish out: To dispense, give out. Often used in the phrase "to dish out criticism." Dig up: To discover something that is supposed to be secret. ex. "The reporter dug up some information that might jeopardize the senator's campaign." Dive in: To start doing something enthusiastically, often without planning ahead. ex. "Don't think about it, just dive in." Do away with: To abolish. ex. "Most people in this country would like to do away with the death penalty." Do over: To do again. ex. "I'm sorry but that's not good enough - You'll have to do it over." Do up: When talking about clothes - to fasten, to button, etc. ex. "Could you help me do up the buttons at the back of my dress?" Do without: To manage without something. ex. "We're going to have to do without a car for a while." Doze off: To fall asleep. ex. "He dozed off for a couple of hours." Dress up: To wear elegant clothes. ex. "I love dressing up to go to the theater." Drag on: To last much longer than expected. ex. "I thought that film would be short, but it really dragged on." Draw out: 10
To make something last longer than necessary. Often used in the passive form: to be "drawn out". ex. "His speech was really drawn out." Draw up: To organize. To create. ex. "The residents of the building drew up a plan to catch the thief." Dream up: To invent. To make up. Drift off: To . ex. "The police drove out the crowd from the stadium." Drive (someone) out: To make (someone) leave and/or stay away. ex. "The police drove out the crowd from the stadium." Drive up: To raise. To cause to increase (prices, rates, etc.). ex. "The new policies drove up prices." Drop by: To visit someone unexpectedly. ex. "My parents dropped by last Saturday." Drop in (on): To visit someone unexpectedly. ex. "My parents dropped in on me last Saturday." Drop off: To deliver someone or something. ex. "I'll drop you off at around 7 PM." Drop out of: Quit/ stop going to (school, etc.) ex. "She dropped out of school last year, but now she wants to go back." Dwell on (something): To spend a lot of time thinking about something. Often has a slightly negative connotation. ex. "Stop dwelling on the past!"
Ease off/Ease up (on): To reduce pressure. To become less intense. ex. "The senator eased off on his attacks." Eat in: To eat at home. ex. "I don't feel like going out tonight - let's eat in." Eat out: To eat at restaurants, outside the home. ex. "David loves going to new restaurants - he eats out almost every night." Edge out: 11
To defeat, barely. ex. "David edged out the other runners and won the race." Egg (someone) on: To urge/ push someone to do something. ex. "The boy always eggs his friends on to do stupid things." Embark upon: To start, commence. ex. "As soon as he finished his contract, he embarked upon a new project." End up: To finish up; To finally be/do something. ex. "We wanted to go to the mountains, but we ended up going to the beach instead." Enter into: To accept, become legaly committed to (an agreement, contract, etc.) ex. "The two parties entered into an agreement last week." Explain away: To explain/ make excuses for something so that it seems less important. ex. "The CEO tried to explain away the company's recent poor performance."
Face off: To go head to head. To engage in a game, competition, etc. ex. "The two teams will face off again next week." Face up to: To accept responsibility for. ex. "In order to be a responsible person, you have to face up to what you did." Fall back on: To have as a backup; To have in case of an emergency. ex. "I always have my translating skills to fall back on if my acting career doesn't pan out." 12
Fall behind: To fail to keep up pace (with someone/something). ex. "The other runners fell behind." Fall for: 1) To believe something that isn't true. ex. "I can't believe you fell for that story! It's obviously a lie!" 2) To fall in love with. ex. "He fell for her." Fall off: To decrease. ex. "Prices have fallen off in the past couple of months." Fall out: To argue, fight to the ex. "They fell out over the administration's handling of the war." Fall through: To not happen. ex. "Our plan to go to Europe last year fell through because we didn't have enough money." Feel out: To try to determine. ex. "Jim's a very moody person. You should feel out his mood before you ask him for any favors." Feel (someone) up: To touch someone in a passionate, sexual way. Feel up to: To feel good/comfortable/strong enough to. ex. "Do you feel up to going out tonight?" Fend off (an attack, etc.): To successfully resist, fight back. Fight off. Figure out: To solve or understand something. ex. "I can't figure out why she would lie to me like that." Fill in: To complete (in writing, etc.) ex. "Don't forget to fill in all the blanks on the application." Fill in for: To substitute for. ex. "I was unable to go to the meeting yesterday, but Tom filled in for me." Fill out: 1) To complete (an application, form, etc.) ex. "Fill out this application and bring it back to me." 2) To gain weight, body mass. etc. ex. "Mike has really filled out over the past couple of years." Find out: To discover. ex. "He found out that his wife had been cheating on him." Find your way around: 13
To have good knowledge of the layout/geography of a place/thing. ex. "I can find my way around Houston very easily.", "This sitemap will help you find your way around our website." Fire away: Mostly used as a command. "Fire away." = "Ask me what you want to ask me." Fire off: To send very quickly, as in an email, a letter, etc. Fit in: To belong or conform to some group, etc. ex. "I'm a rebel. I don't fit in." Fizzle out: To fade and then end weakly. Peter out. ex. "The party just kind of fizzled out." Flick through (the channels): To channel surf - to go from one TV chanel to the next, seeing what's on TV. Also used as a synonym for "to flip through." Flip through: To look, glance through very quickly. ex. "He flipped through the newspaper." Follow up on (something): To go back to something that was talked about earlier, usually in order to check progress, discuss details, etc. ex. "I'm calling to follow up on our conversation this morning." Fool around: 1) To play, joke around. ex. "The kids were fooling around outside." 2) To kiss and touch. ex. "Tom and Rachel were fooling around at the party." Freak out: (very informal) To go crazy/wild (because of emotion, anger, etc.).ex. "My friend freaked out when he found out that his girlfriend was cheating on him."
Gang up on: To join forces to go against someone, verbally or physically. ex. "Her mother and her sister ganged up on me. They kept blaming me for everything." Get (something) across to (someone): To get someone to understand something. ex. "I tried and I tried, but I just couldn't get my message across to her." Get along with: To have a friendly relationship with. To be friendly toward. ex. "I like James, but I don't get along with his brother." 14
Get around: 1) To avoid doing something. ex. "You can't get around taking this exam, so you better start studying." 2) To move from place to place. ex. "In this city you need a car to get around." Get around (TO something): To have a chance/ time to do something ex. "I'm sorry, I haven't gotten around to reviewing your paper yet." Get away: To escape. ex. "The bank robbers got away." Get behind: To support, to start to support. ex. "Everyone got behind the plan." Get by: To survive (financially). ex. "It's hard for me to get by on the money I'm making." Get in: To come/arrive. To come home. ex. "What time did you get in last night? 2:00 AM." Get on: To enter (bus, plane, etc.) ex. "We got on the train in Paris." (IMPORTANT: With cars and trucks we generally use "to get IN" - eg. "Sarah got in the truck.") Get off: To leave (bus, plane, etc.) ex. "We have to get off at the next bus stop." (IMPORTANT: With cars and trucks we generally use "to get OUT" - eg. "Sarah got out of the car.") Get on: To continue. ex. "I found it hard to get on with my life after my girlfriend left me." Get over: To accept/stop thinking about. ex. "I can't get over the fact that she left me." Get up: To wake up and get out of bed. ex. "What time to did you get up this morning?" Give away: 1) To give something for free. ex. "When Nancy found out she was moving, she gave away all her furniture." 1) To reveal. ex. "There's no point in going out to see that movie - Nancy gave away the ending yesterday." Give in: To stop trying (to fight something). ex. "Tom gave in to his parents' pressure and became a doctor." Give off: 15
To release (a smell, a light) ex. "That yellow flower gives off a wonderful smell." Give up: To surrender, concede, stop trying, etc. ex. "You should always keep trying. Don't give up!" Go away: To leave. ex. "I told him to go away, but he wouldn't leave." Go off: 1) To explode. ex. "The bomb could go off at any moment." 2) To start (signal, alarm, warning siren, etc.) ex. "My alarm went off at 7:00 AM but I just couldn't get up." Go on: To continue. ex. "Go on, tell me the rest of the story." Go out: 1) To leave the house (and partake in social activities - bar, club, restaurant, etc.) ex. "My cousin loves to party. She goes out every night." 2) To stop burning (a fire). ex. "After the fire went out, it became very cold." Go out with: To have a romantic relationship with. To be boyfriend and girlfriend. ex. "Is she really going out with him?" Go over: To review. ex. "Let's go over your test." Grow on (someone): When something "grows on" you, it means you begin liking it after initially not liking it. ex. "When I first heard that CD, I really hate it, but it's beginning to grow on me." Grow up: To be raised. To become an adult. ex. "I grew up in San Diego.", "These days children grow up too fast."
Hand in To submit (a report, assignment, essay). ex. "I have to hand in my assignment at 8 AM tomorrow morning" Hand out: To distribute. ex. "William, please hand these copies out to the class." Hang on: To hold on. To wait. Hang up: 16
To end a phone conversation by replacing the receiver. ex. "We got into a huge fight on the phone and she hung up on me." Hang out: To stay in a place for fun. ex. "Like most teenagers, she loves to hang out in the mall." Hear from: To receive news from (phone call, letter, e-mail, etc.) ex. "Have you heard from Robert lately?" Hear of: To know/ be familiar with something or someone. ex. "I have never heard of that band." Hit on: To flirt with someone. ex. "That guy was hitting on me all night at the club." Hold off on: To delay. ex. "Let's hold off on making dinner until your roommates come back." Hold on: To wait. ex. "I have never heard of that band." Hold up: 1) To delay. ex. "I'm sorry we're late. We got held up at the airport." 2) To rob. ex. "My sister is very upset. Two men held her up and took her purse and jewelry." Hook up (with someone): To meet with someone (*be careful because this often has sexual overtones*) ex. "We hooked up last weekend."
Iron out To eliminate. To work out. ex. "They managed to iron out all the problems before they launched the new product." Inch along: To move along very slowly. ex. "Traffic was inching along this morning because of the accident." Inch away: To back off. To move away. ex. "The president has begun to inch away from his pledge not to spend more money on the war." 17
Jack up To raise (a physical object, a price, etc.) ex. "The hotels around here usually jack up their prices during the summer season." Joke around: To kid. To be humorous. ex. "He was just joking around, but his girlfriend didn't find it funny." Jump all over: To seriously scold. ex. "She jumped all over me when I got home at 3:00 AM last Tuesday." Jump at: To willingly seize/ accept the opportunity. ex. "George jumped at the chance to go to Australia with his best friends."
Keel over: To fall over and faint. ex. "One of the dancers keeled over from the heat." Keep around To have handy. To have access to. ex. "I like to keep some change around to do laundry." Keep back: To maintain a distance. ex. "Keep back - that driver seems like he's drunk." Keep on: To continue. ex. "He kept on talking until I told him to stop." Keep out: To prevent from entering. ex. "Your job is to keep all the underage kids from entering the club." Keep up: 1) To keep (someone) up - To make someone stay awake. ex. "The party kept me up all night." 2) To manage to stay on schedule, or to do the required work on time. ex. "I've got too much work! I'm finding it hard to keep up." Kick around: To think about. ex. "I've been kicking around the idea of writing a book." Kick back: To relax. ex. "Hey, you're on vacation - just kick back and relax." Kick off: To start. ex. "They kicked off the fundraiser with a concert." 18
Kick out: To throw out. To expel. ex. "They kicked him out of school." Knock down: To destroy. To knock (someone) down - To cause someone to fall due to a strong hit, etc. ex. "They knocked down that wall during the renovation.", "He knocked him down with one punch." Knock out: To make unconscious. ex. "The boxing match ended when the German boxer was knocked out in the third round."
Lay down: To establish. ex. "If you would like to stay here, we should lay down some rules." Lay into: To criticize (severely). ex. "His mother really laid into him whenever he came home late." Lay off: 1) To (temporarily) suspend someone from work while things are slow. ex. "General Motors had to lay off 3,000 workers last month." 2) To stop using. ex. "You should really lay off the alcohol." 19
Lead on: To make someone think that something (romantic) will happen, while knowing that it will not. ex. "I thought she really liked me. But she was just leading me on!" Let down: To disappoint. ex. "He really let me down by not showing up on Friday." Let on: To pretend, act. ex. "He let on like he hadn't heard that I had been fired." Let up: To lose some intensity. ex. "By the time the storm let up, half the city had been flooded." Lie down: To recline and rest. ex. "I'm tired. I have to lie down for a little while." Light up: 1) To start smoking a cigarette. ex. "In Los Angeles, you're not allowed to light up in any bars and restaurants." 2) To illuminate. ex. "The stars lit up the sky." Let out: Release. ex. "They let him out of the hospital on Friday." Live on: To survive on. ex. "It's hard to live on bread and water alone." Log on/in to: To enter a username/password combination to be allowed access to a computer, email account, etc. ex. "The system is not allowing me to log in for some reason." Look after: To take care of. ex. "I'll look after your dog while you're in Spain." Look down on: To see someone or something as being worse, inferior. ex. "Arrogant people often look down on others." Look up to: 1) To admire. ex. "He is a leader in the community and many people look up to him." 2) To check and find (in a dictionary, etc.) ex. "I tried to look that word up, but it wasn't in the dictionary."
Make fun of: To laugh at. To make jokes about. ex. "The other kids always made fun of John." Make of: To understand/ interpret. ex. "What do you make of his comments?" (How would you interpret his comments?) Make out: 1) To decipher/ understand. ex. "He always mumbles - I can never make out what he's saying." 2) To kiss and touch (passionately). ex. "The two college students were making out in the park." Make (someone) over: To change someone's appearance. Make (someone) out (to be something): To make someone seem like something. They made her out to be some kind of monster. Make up: 1) To fabricate, invent. ex. "He made up a story about how he got robbed on the way to work." 2) To reconcile. ex. "They had a big fight, but then they made up right away." Make up for: To compensate for. ex. "He made up for what he said by inviting her to a movie." Mark down: To lower a price. ex. "All these items have been marked down. They are on sale." 21
Mark up: To increase a price. ex. "Retailers had to mark up their prices in order to cover expenses." Mess up: To spoil, to cause trouble (informal). ex. "The messed up his chance of getting promoted by always being late." Measure up: To be of an equally high quality. ex. "These new products don't measure up to our standards." Mix up: To confuse. To get it wrong. ex. "I hate this restaurant, they always mix up my order." Move in: To start living in an apartment, house, with someone, etc. ex. "Tom moved in with his girlfriend." Move on: To continue. ex. "Let's move on. What's the next topic?" Move out: To stop living in an apartment, house, etc. ex. "Sarah moved out last month. She moved in with her mother."
Name after: To give someone the same name as someone else (usually a family member or someone famous). ex. "She was named after her great grandmother." Nod off: To fall asleep, to take a cat nap. ex. "Jim was so tired that he began to nod off during the meeting." Nail down: To make sure. To finalize. ex. "We're still trying to nail down the specifics." Nose around: To look for something (secret), to pry. ex. "I hate it when my brother noses around my room."
Occur to: To come to one's mind. To make one realize. ex. "It just occurred to me that I don't even know his name." Open up: To talk about one's feelings honestly. ex. "I don't usually open up to people this way." Own up: To take the blame for. ex. "He showed lots of character when he owned up to what he did."
Pan out: To happen. To occur. ex. "Our trip to Vietnam didn't pan out." Pass away: To die. ex. "His grandfather passed away last month." Pass for (something/someone): To be able to be accepted as (something/someone). ex. "He's 37, but he can pass for 30.", "He can pass for being Italian." Pass on: 1) To tell or transmit. ex. "He passed the news on to the president." 2) To not take or accept. ex. "I'll buy the blouse, but I'll pass on the pants." Pass out: 1) To faint. ex. "The woman passed out from the heat." 2) To distribute. ex. "The demonstrators were passing out flyers." Pass (something) up: To let (something) go by. ex. "I passed up a great opportunity to make a lot of money." Pay back: To repay. To get revenge. ex. "Why is she being so mean to him? She is paying him back for all the years he was mean to her." Pay off: 1) To complete payment. ex. "I won't be able to pay off my student loan for another 10 years." 2) To bribe. ex. "The police were obviously paid off to stay away." Pick on: To harass. To intentionally make someone upset. ex. "You shouldn't pick on him just because he's different." Pick up: 1) To come and get someone (usually in a car). ex. "I have to pick the kids up at school." 2) To notice. ex. "She picked up on his bad mood" 3) To meet someone and initiate a (sexual) relationship. ex. "Some sleazy guy was trying to pick me up last night." Play down: To diminish the significance of. To make something sound less important. ex. "The CEO tried to play down the dismal financial report." Play up: To exaggerate the significance of. To make something sound more important. ex. "He likes to 24
play up the fact that he was raised in a tough neighborhood." Point out: To indicate. To bring to someone's attention. ex. "I'd like to point out that two of the bank robbers were from Canada." Polish off: To finish. ex. "Peter polished off the rest of the spaghetti." Pull in: To drive in. To park. ex. "They pulled in to McDonald's to grab something to eat." Pull (something) off: To succeed in doing something (that seemed un doable, unrealistic, hard to do, etc.) ex. "I can't believe she pulled it off. I was sure she was going to fail." Pull over: When driving - To stop. Put (someone) down: To make negative remarks about (someone). ex. "He was a very mean boy who always put down everyone around him." Pull over: To drive a vehicle to the side of the road. ex. "Pull over by those bushes. I have to go to the bathroom." Put (someone) on: To try to trick someone (usually not in a serious/malicious way - often as a joke/for fun). ex. "You're putting me on! He didn't really say that, did he?" Put (something) off: To delay doing (something) until a later time. ex. "Why do you keep putting this off? Just do it, and get it over with." Put out: When speaking about CDs, etc. - To release. ex. "The Killers put out a new CD last month." Put (someone) up: To have someone as a guest in one's home; To allow someone to sleep in your home. ex. "It was really kind of your uncle to put me up for a week" Put up with: To tolerate. ex. "I can't put up with his behavior any longer."
Quiet down: To be/ become more quiet. ex. "We told the construction workers to quiet down."
Rat on: To be an informer. To reveal someone's secret. ex. "The teacher found out because you ratted on me!" Read up on: To search out information on. ex. "I wanted to read up on camping in West Virginia before my trip." Read (too much) into (sth): To over-analyze/exaggerate the importance of something that was said. ex. "Don't read too much into what she said. I'm sure she was just kidding." Rinse out: To rinse the inside of. ex. "Rinse out that kettle before you fill it with water." Rip off: To cheat. To swindle. ex. "Don't go into that store - the owner will try to rip you off." Roll in: To arrive in great numbers/ quantity. ex. "He thinks that if he opens a restaurant, people will just roll in automatically." Rough up: To hurt physically. ex. "When the cops arrived, they saw that the man had been roughed up a bit." Rub off: To transmit to someone. ex. "After hanging out with Hans for the past year, I can say that his love of bratwurst has rubbed off on me." Rule out: To eliminate. ex. "We can't rule out revenge as a possible motive." Run away: To escape; leave; leave quickly without permission. ex. "He ran away from home when he was 16." Run (something) by (someone): To tell someone something. To let someone know about something. ex. "The Secretary of State ran the plan by the President." Run for: To campaign for. To try to become elected as. ex. "Bill Clinton ran for president twice, and both times he was elected." 27
Run into: To meet (by accident). ex. "Guess who I ran into the other day? My math teacher from high school!" Run off: To run away. ex. "They ran off without paying the bill." Run out of: To have no more, to use up completely. ex. "I ran out of gas on the way to my aunt's house."
Sail through: To finish an exam, test, interview, easily. ex. "John sailed through his Math exam." Save up for (something): To save money for (something). ex. "John was saving up for a new motorcycle." Scrape by: To just barely succeed at something. ex. "Did Stefan pass his English exam? Yes, but he just scraped by." Scrape together: To collect, find, gather. ex. "We managed to scrape together enough money to buy a bottle of wine." Screw up: *somewhat vulgar* To make a mistake, to do something badly. ex. "I really screwed up on my vocabulary test." See (someone) out: To accompany (someone) to the exit/door. ex. "It's OK. I'll see myself out. = It's OK. You don't have to come with me to the door." See through: To not be fooled by. ex. "I can't believe more people don't see through his lies." See to: To make sure that (something happens). ex. "I'll see to it that he gets your message." See off: To arrange/attend someone's goodbye party, to take leave of someone, to come say goodbye to someone (esp. at the place they are leaving from). ex. "They came to see us off at the train station." Sell out: 1) To do something one normally would not do, in order to get money (usually used when talking about musicians, artists, etc.) ex. "I liked this band when they first came out, but then they sold out." 2) To sell (an item) until there are none left. ex. "I'm sorry we sold out of that toy this morning." Send (someone) off: To have a goodbye party for someone. ex. "Mike's finally leaving. We're sending him off on Saturday." Set (someone) back: To cost (someone). ex. "The whole trip set us back $2,000." 29
Set off: 1) To make something (usually a bomb, alarm, etc.) go off, start, etc. ex. "He accidentally set off the alarm by walking into the room." 2) Less archaic form of "set out" or "set forth" (see above). Set (someone) up: 1) To arrange a meeting (with the purpose of getting people involved romantically). ex. "Becky tried to set me up with her cousin, but it didn't work out." 2) To falsely incriminate someone. ex. "The killer claimed that he had been set up." Settle down: 1) To start living a "normal", routine life (especially after living a wild life beforehand). ex. "All my rowdy friends have settled down." 1) To calm down. ex. "Settle down!" Settle for: To accept something less than what one wanted. ex. "He wanted $20, but he settled for $15." Shape up: To develop. ex. "How's your project shaping up?" Shoot off (one's mouth): To speak without restraint (and often without tact) about something. ex. "She's always shooting off her mouth about how how successful her children are." Shop around: To look for the best price. ex. "I like to shop around before I buy something." Show (someone) around: To show someone where everything is in a city, neighborhood, etc. ex. "I don't really know the city - Could you show me around?" Show off: To brag. To be very proud about something. ex. "He just loves to show off his car, doesn't he?" Show up: 1) To arrive. ex. "He showed up at her house at 4 o'clock in the morning." 2) To show (someone) up - To outdo, to outperform, to make someone seem worse. ex. "The opening band showed the headliners up" Shut down: To close permanently. ex. "They shut down that restaurant last year." Shut up: To be/ make quiet. ex. "He just kept talking and talking. He never knows when to shut up." Shy away from (doing something): 30
To not do something because one is too shy/timid. ex. "My sister tends to shy away from things like that." Side with (someone): To support (someone) in a conflict, etc. ex. "When I found out that my sister and her friend were arguing, I sided with my sister." Sign in: To gain access to something by writing your name. Sign off on (something): To approve. ex. "We have to get upper management to sign off on the proposal this week." Sign up (for something): To register. ex. "I signed up for an intensive English course in New York City." Sink in: To become clear/evident. To become felt/understood. ex. "The truth that she would never see her grandfather again began to sink in." Sit around/sit by: To sit without doing anything, used primarily in the phrase "to sit around doing nothing." This is a little different from "to sit by" which implies that someone is "sitting around and not stopping something from happening." - "They sat by and did nothing" would imply that they COULD HAVE done something but didn't. Sit down: To sit. Sit in for (someone): To assume someone's duties while he/she is away. ex. "I'm sitting in for my boss this week." Sit in on (a meeting, etc.): To attend as an observer. ex. "The head of our marketing team will be sitting in on this meeting." Sit out: To not participate. ex. "I'm going to sit this game out." Slack off: To not work as hard/efficiently as always. ex. "John has been slacking off recently." Sleep in: To sleep longer than normal. ex. "I slept until 11:00 AM this morning." Sleep on (something): To think about something (overnight). ex. "Let me sleep on it, and tomorrow I'll let you know 31
what I decide." Sleep over: To sleep at someone else's house. ex. "Mary slept over last night. = Mary slept here last night." Slip out: To sneak out. To leave (a place, etc.) quietly/without making a sound. ex. "He must have slipped out while the security guard wasn't looking." Slip up: To make a mistake. ex. "The press secretary slipped up and told the reporters more than he was supposed to." Slow down: To (make something) move more slowly. ex. "Hey, could you please slow down! I'm finding it hard to keep up." Snap off (a piece of something): To break off (a piece of something). Snap out of (it): To stop behaving in a strange, disturbed, or agitated way. ex. "Hey, snap out of it! You're beginning to scare me." Sober up: To become sober. Sort out: To resolve. ex. "We sorted our our differences and became friends again." Sound off: To express one's views and opinions. ex. "The speaker sounded off on the terrible treatment of animals." Speak out (about something): To state one's views and opinions about something. ex. "The former police chief spoke out about the recent corruption scandal." Speak up: To speak more loudly. ex. "Please speak up. I can't hear you." Spell (something) out (for someone): To explain something really carefully. ex. "It's pretty obvious. I don't have to spell it out for you." Split up: 1) To end a (romantic) relationship. ex. "Peter and his girlfriend split up last week." 2) To go in separate directions. 32
Square off against (an opponent): To confront/fight an opponent. ex. "Tonight the Los Angeles Lakers square off against the Orlando Magic." Stamp out: To eliminate. ex. "The senator started a campaign to stamp out smoking in high schools." Stand for: To represent. ex. "VIP stands for very important person." Stand out: To be very different (in a positive way). ex. "Maria is the kind of girl who really stands out in a crowd." Stand (someone) up: To not arrive for a date (with someone). ex. "She was really angry when he stood her up on Saturday." Stand up for (a cause, etc.): to actively support (a cause, etc.) Stand up to: To defend oneself against. ex. "The boy showed a lot of courage in standing up to the school bully." Start out: To begin. ex. "He started out as a dishwasher." Stay in: To stay at home. To not go out. Stay on: To remain. Stay over: To sleep over. To sleep at someone's house overnight. ex. "Can I stay over tonight?" Stay up: To stay awake; Not to go to bed. ex. "Jamie's parents let him stay up until 11:00 PM on weekends." Step down: To leave a job, position, etc. ex. "I'm sorry, Mr. Johnson stepped out for a bit. He'll be back in 30 minutes." Step in: To break up (a fight, argument, etc.) ex. "The principal stepped in when he saw the two boys arguing." 33
Step out: To leave (for a brief period of time). ex. "I'm sorry, Mr. Johnson stepped out for a bit. He'll be back in 30 minutes." Stick around: To not go anywhere; ex. "I think I'll stick around for a bit." Straighten (something) out: To make something clear(er); To make something less confusing; ex: "They was a mistake on my phone bill, but the phone company straightened it our for me." String (someone) along: To keep someone in a state of false hope/ deception.
Tack on: To add (usually used in a negative way). ex. "The lawyer tried to tack on an additional $100 in fees." Tag along: To accompany (someone). ex. "Do you mind if I tag along? = Do you mind if I come with you?" Tail off: To decrease in intensity, effectiveness, etc. ex. "The protests tailed off as the night wore on." Take aback: To surprise (almost always used in the form - "to be taken aback"). ex. "I was taken aback by his reaction." Take after: To resemble (a person). ex. "She really takes after her father." Take apart: To disassemble. ex. "She took the computer apart, but couldn't reassemble it afterwards." Take care of: 1) To provide care for. ex. "John took good care of his car and ended up selling it for a lot of money." 2) To assume responsibility for doing. ex. "Who's going to tell him? I'll take care of it." Take down: To write (down). ex. "Take this down." Take in: 1) To shelter. ex. "They took in two stray cats." 2) To process, remember (when someone is teaching you something). ex. "All this information is just too much to take in at one time." Take off: 1) To remove. ex. "Please take off your hat when you're indoors." 2) To leave. To split. ex. "I think I'm going to take off - I'm really tired." 3) To leave the ground (plane or rocket). ex. "When the plane took off I felt very nervous." Take on: To assume. To accept. ex. "I took on another project." Take out: 35
1) To invite someone to go out to a cafe, restaurant, etc. ex. "I took my mom out to diner on her birthday." 2) To borrow a book, cd, etc. from the library. ex. "Tom took out three books and two DVDs from the library." 3) To get, obtain. (money from an ATM, insurance, etc.) ex. "Tom took out $100 dollars from the ATM.", "We took out a life insurance policy." 4) To arrange to have someone killed. ex. "The mafia took him out." Take (something) out on: To abuse or yell at someone because one is angry, even though that someone is not the cause of the anger. ex. "Why do you always take your anger out on me?" Take over: To take control over. ex. "After Jim retired, Nancy took over the family business." Take up: To start (a habit, hobbby, etc.) ex. "He took up bowling." Take (something) upon oneself: To take/assume responsibility for something. ex. "I'm going to take it upon myself to make sure he improves his English." Talk back: To respond in a rude, or agressive way. ex. "Don't talk back to your father like that!" Talk down to: To talk to someone in a condescending way, like they were less intelligent than you. ex. "He always talks down to his little brother." Talk (someone) into (something): To convince/persuade someone (by talking to them) to do something. ex. "He talked me into buying a Mazda." Talk (someone) out of (something): To convince/persuade someone (by talking to them) NOT to do something.. ex. "I was going to buy a Mazda, but my cousin talked me out of it." Talk (something) over: To discuss. ex. "It's a good deal, but I have to talk it over with my husband." Talk (someone) through (something): To guide someone through something (usually a process, instructions, etc.) ex. "I started to unerstand the process after Bill talked me through it." Tear into: To criticize severely. ex. "Barack Obama really tore into John McCain during their debate." Tear up: To tear (a piece of paper, etc.) into pieces. ex. "The student tore up his report card when he saw 36
his grades." Tell off: To criticize (sometimes severely). ex. "I told the babysitter off for not taking good care of my son." Tell on: To report bad behavior. ex. "Every time I did something wrong when I was a child, my brother would tell on me." Think (something) over: To consider or reconsider (something). ex. "Think it over. Maybe you'll decide to join us." Think up: To create or invent (a story, plan, etc.) Often used to mean that someone is lying about something. ex. "He thought up some story. " Throw away/ Throw out: To put something in the garbage. To discard. ex. "Maria, stop playing with that paper - throw it out!" Throw (someone) off: To make someone lose their concentration/ to mislead someone. ex. "I know you're doing that just to throw me off, but it's not going to work." Throw up: To vomit. ex. "If you drink too much alcohol, you might throw up." Tick off: To upset. To annoy. ex. "He really ticked me off! = He really upset me!" Tie up: 1) To be blocked, stuck. Often used to talk about traffic. ex. "Traffic is tied up for miles." 2) To be busy. ex. "I'm sorry, Mr. Smith is tied up in a meeting right now." Tip off: To let someone know that something is going to happen. To let someone know where someone/something is, etc. ex. "Someone tipped the police off about where he was hiding." Tone down: To makes less extreme, more moderate. ex. "He toned down his speech to appeal to more people." Touch down: To land. (Plane, rocket, etc.) ex. "The plane touched down an hour ago." Try back: To call someone again because he/she isn't around. ex. "Richard isn't around right now. Try back in 30 minutes." 37
Try on: To put on a piece of clothing to see how it fits. ex. "She tried on seven dresses, but didn't like any of them." Try out: When talking about teams, bands, etc. - To attempt to become accepted as a member. ex. "She tried out for the basketball team, but they told her that she was too short." Tuck (someone) in: To put someone to bed, making sure that his/her pillows, sheets, etc. are comfortable. ex. "When I was a child, my mom used to tuck me in every night." Tuck away: To set aside, to hide. ex. "He tucked away the money that his grandfather gave him." Tune in: To watch something on TV, to listen to the radio/a podcast. ex. "Tune in to our live ESL podcast every Monday at 7:00 PM." Turn down: To reject. To say no to. ex. "The new candidate turned down the job offer." Turn in: To go to bed. ex. "It's late. We're going to turn in." Turn into: To become. To transform into. ex. "The frog turned into a Prince after the Princess kissed him." Turn on: 1) To start by turning a handle or switch. ex. "Turn on the light - it's dark in here." 2) To turn (someone) on - To excite (often sexually). ex. "Girls like that really turn me on." Turn out: 1) To produce an unexpected result. ex. "I thought he was an honest man, but it turns out he had been lying to me all along." 2) To appear. To come. (to a protest, an event, etc.) ex. "500,000 people turned out for the concert." Turn up: Appear. To be found. ex. "I'm sure your wallet will turn up somewhere." Turn (something) up: To make something louder. ex. "Turn up the radio - I love that song!"
Use up: To use all of something. ex. "You used up all the toothpaste - How am I supposed to brush my teeth?"
Veer away from: To avoid. ex. "As a cameraman, I would veer away from those types of shots." Veg out: To relax. To kick back. ex. "Jim was just vegging out at home." Vote down: To defeat in a vote. ex. "The senate voted down the president's proposed bill."
Wait on: To serve (in a restaurant). ex. "I want to go back to school. I don't want to wait on tables forever." Wait (something) out: To wait for something bad/negative to pass. ex. "My brother waited the storm out in the car." Wait up (on/for) someone: To wait. ex. "Don't worry, they'll wait up for you. = Don't worry they'll wait for you." Wake up: To awaken. To stop sleeping. ex. "I woke up at 7:00 AM this morning." Walk in on (something/someone): To enter into a room, etc. and unexpectedly see/discover someone or something. ex. "My parents walked in on us kissing." Walk off with (something): To steal, get away with. ex. "The thieves walked off with a million dollars." Wash out (usually used in the passive form): 39
To not happen because of rain. Used for sporting events, concerts, etc. ex. "Game 1 was washed out." Wash out (usually used in the passive form): To not happen because of rain. Used for sporting events, concerts, etc. ex. "Game 1 was washed out." Wash up: To wash, clean oneself. ex. "Make sure you wash up before dinner." Watch out (for): To be careful. ex. "There's a school at the end of this block. Watch out for children crossing the street." Water down: To add water to something (usually used when someone adds water to alcohol, etc.) ex. "I'm sure they water down the beer/This beer tastes watered down." Wear in: To make comfortable by usage, wearing, etc. Often used to talk about shoes. ex. "I've been trying to wear in these new sneakers." Wear off: To stop working. To fade. ex. "The numbness will wear off in two hours." Wear on: To continue (gradually). ex. "The protests tailed off as the night wore on." Wear out: 1) To wear so much that something becomes too old/ damaged to wear. ex. "I wore out my shoes in about six months." 2) To make someone very tired. ex. "My daily routine really wears me out." Weed out: To remove less desirable parts/elements of something. ex. "He weeded out all the rotten berries." Whip out: To remove something (very quickly). ex. "We were talking about my favorite book, when he whipped it out of his backpack." Whip up: To quickly make, create something to eat. ex. "He whipped up some sandwiches." Wiggle/wriggle out (of something): To avoid doing something through excuses, explanations, etc. ex. "You won't be able to wiggle out of going this time." Wind down: 40
To relax. To spend time in a relaxing way. ex. "I just need to wind down for a couple of hours." Wind up: To finish. End up. ex. "If he doesn't get his act together, he is going to wind up in jail." Wipe (someone) out: 1) To exhaust (someone), to make (someone) really out. ex. "That hike really wiped me out!" 2) To completely get rid of, eliminate. ex. "Hunters wiped out all the deer in this region." Work in: To include, interpose. ex. "The writer worked in a couple of extra passages." Work off: To lose (usually by exercise). ex. "I need to work off a few pounds." Work out: 1) To be successful. ex. "I'm glad your new consulting business is working out." 2) To exercise (usually with weights). ex. "Martin works out three times a week." Work up: To develop (due to work, effort, etc.) ex. "He worked up quite a sweat after running for 2 hours." Write (something) down: To write something. ex. "Write down your name. = Write your name." Write (something) off: To dismiss (something). ex. "He wrote the incident off as unimportant." Write up: To prepare a report. ex. "He wrote up a business proposal when he was applying for loan." Wrap up: To finish. To bring to a conclusion. ex. "OK, let's wrap up for today."
Yak on: To keep talking (too much). ex. "He kept yakking on for hours about how great things were going for him."
Zero in on: To focus on. To pinpoint. ex. "The authorities zeroed in the fugitive's location." Zip around: To move around. ex. "Peter zipped around town after school." Zone in on (something/someone): To focus (on something); To start paying attention (to something). ex. "The owl zoned in on the squirrel." Zone out: To stop paying attention. To space out. ex. "He zoned out during the lecture." Zoom in: To view at a closer range (usually with a camera lense, etc.). ex. "Try to zoom in so we can get a better look."