American and Australian phrasal verbs; New phrasal verbs

North America

  • bawl out – UK tell off – speak angrily to sb
  • call around – UK phone/ring around
  • figure out – UK suss out/ work out
  • goof off – UK mess about
  • wash up – UK freshen up


  • barrack for – UK cheer for
  • belt into – UK throw yourself into – begin to do sth quickly
  • get into – UK lay into – criticise
  • shoot through – UK do a runner – leave a place secretly

new phrasal verbs used by the media and young people

  • be partied out – have had enough of parties
  • big up – praise sth very highly
  • bliss out – make sb totally happy
  • buy into sth – completely believe a set of ideas
  • chill out – relax
  • sex up – make sth seem more exciting
  • text back – send a text message in reply

more examples of new phrasal verb expressions

  • stressed-out
  • cashback – money from your bank account that you can get when from a shop when you buy goods with a debit card
  • dress-down – less formal
  • bounced back – sent back
  • burnout – condition of being ill or tired because you have been working too hard
  • veg out – relax by doing nothing

I’d go and veg out in the Caribbean!

News, Crime and Authority


  • flare up – suddenly happen
  • went off – exploded
  • bring down – cause people in power to lose their position
  • break out – suddenly start
  • breakthrough – important discovery
  • leak out – became public
  • pull out – stop being involved
  • break off – end suddenly
  • shot up – increased
  • crack down on sth/sb – treat people more strictly
  • step up – do sth in order to improve all possible measures
  • breakout – escape
  • hideaway – secret place
  • look out for – carefully watch things around you so that you will notice a particular person or thing

crime reports in newspapers

  • beaten up
  • break into
  • break out – escape
  • walked off with – steal

other verbs connected with crime

  • hold up sth/ sb – steal money from somewhere or sb by using violence
  • tip off sb – warn sb secretly about sth
  • put sb up to sth – encourage sb to do sth stupid or wrong
  • take in sb – deceive sb
  • lead on – make sb believe sth that is not true esp. to make them do sth stupid
  • let off – do not punish sb
  • lean on – try to make sb do sth by threatening them
  • are or get mixed up in sth – are or become involved in illegal or bad activity

the start of a political career

  • stand for Parliament
  • bring in laws
  • go away with taxes
  • clamp down on rich people who were attempting to pay tax
  • stand up for the principles that I believe in

life in Parliament

  • go ahead with your plans
  • back me up
  • entered into an agreement
  • stand up to influential MP’s
  • carry out the wishes for big business

forming a new party

  • stand by you
  • break away and form a new party
  • carry out our plans
  • stick by me

Food, drink, weather, travel, driving

preparing food an drink

  • go off – not good to eat
  • thawed it out – let it gradually become warmer so that it was not frozen anymore
  • put sth on – begin to cook
  • heat up
  • boil over – flow over the side of the pan

serving food and drink

  • hand round – offer sth
  • poured out – fill
  • topping up – putting more drink into sb’s glass
  • top-up – more drink poured into a glass
  • go with – combined
  • left over – not eaten

styles of eating and drinking

  • leftovers
  • takeaway/ take away
  • lives on/off – only eat sth
  • eat out


  • brighten up
  • cloud over
  • clear up
  • warm up
  • cool down
  • pick up

talking about the weather and its effects

  • the storms never let up – never stopped
  • flooded out
  • poured down/ downpour – heavy rain
  • rained off – cannot continue because it is raining
  • blown over – become less stronger
  • snowed in – too much snow

going on a journey

  • get away
  • set off/out – start a journey
  • start off – began
  • got on – boarded
  • stop off – visit sb for a short time

travel in general

  • check in – arrive at a hotel
  • check out – leave a hotel
  • get in (transportation)
  • pull in – (of a train) arrive in a station
  • pull out – (of a train) leave a station

air travel

  • standby – cheap ticket for a flight which you buy just before the flight
  • check in – show your tickets at the official desk
  • take off – begin to fly
  • touch down – land on the ground
  • stop over – stop for a period of time when you are on a long journey

stopping to do things

  • draw up – arrive somewhere in a vehicle and stop
  • drop off sb – take sb to a place that they want to go
  • pull up – stop a car for a short time
  • pull over – drive a car to the side of the road
  • pick up – collect sb who is waiting for you
  • pull in/ out – move a car to the side of the road

driving problems

  • pull out – drive out of traffic lane
  • knocked down – hit by a vehicle
  • run over – hit by a vehicle
  • pile-up – crash involving several vehicles
  • tailback – long line of traffic

Life, health, sport and daily routines

stages of life

  • name sb after
  • takes after
  • bring up
  • grow up
  • carry on
  • end up
  • become of
  • drop out
  • turn to
  • wind up – end up
  • live up to
  • pass for – appear to be
  • hand down – given

health: symptoms

  • I keep throwing up.
  • I think I’m coming down with flu.
  • I am going down with flu too.
  • I am fighting off a sore throat
  • I’ve put my shoulder out. – dislocated
  • I can’t stake off this cold. – can’t get rid of
  • My ankle has swollen up
  • My nose is blocked-up
  • I’ve passed out a couple of times recently


broke down

care for

pull through – recover

slow down

pass away – die

passed on – die

sport items form newspapers

  • kick-off – start a game of sth
  • go for – try to achieve
  • knocked out – force to leave a competition because they were defeated
  • play-off – game to decide the winner

people talking about their sporting activities

  • work out
  • burn off calories
  • work off the stress of work
  • warm-up
  • cool down
  • give in – accept that you have been defeated
  • pull ahead – suddenly get in front of a person who was previously running at the same speed as you
  • join in
  • knockout competition – a competition in which the winners of each stage play in the next stage, until one person or team is the final winner


  • move out
  • move in
  • move in together
  • line on
  • live off
  • put up sb or put sb up
  • sleep over

daily routines

  • get up
  • wake up
  • sleep in
  • lie in
  • stay up
  • wait up

Good, Bad, Ground, Like

good and better

  • go one better
  • against out better judgement
  • stand her in good stead – be useful in the future
  • think better of


  • second best
  • get the best of both worlds
  • for the best
  • make the best of a bad job
  • be on your best behaviour

bad, worse and worst

  • in a bad way
  • gone from bad to worse
  • give it up as a bad job
  • if the worst comes to the worst

attitudes, arguments and positions


  • common ground
  • gaining ground


  • cut the ground from under the feet of
  • hold/stand her ground
  • dangerous ground

changing your opinion

  • give ground
  • shifting his/her ground

the ground as starting point

  • get a project/idea off the ground
  • get in on the ground floor
  • prepare the ground


  • wished the ground would swallow me up
  • think/thin on the ground
  • suit me down to the ground
  • gone to ground
  • stamping/stomping ground

as…as…and like idioms involving animals and birds

  • as blind as a bat
  • like a bat out of hell
  • like a bear with a sore head
  • as busy as a bee
  • as free as a bird
  • like a red rag to a bull
  • like sth the cat brought/ dragged in
  • as slippery as an eel
  • like a fish out of water
  • as sly/cunning as a fox
  • has eyes like a hawk
  • as strong as an ox

other similes

  • as fat as the eye could see
  • as plain as the nose on your face
  • as ugly as a sin
  • as light as a feather
  • as heavy as lead

other like idioms

  • avoid sth like the plague – avoid
  • have a memory like a sieve – very bad
  • like greased lightning – very quickly

Long, Line, Action


  • a long story
  • long time no see!
  • how long is a piece of string? – an impossible question to answer
  • to cut a long story short
  • a list as long as your arm!

compound idioms

  • long-winged – too long and boring
  • a long haul – it isn’t going to to be easy and it will take a long time
  • a long face – looking sad and gloomy


  • goes to great lengths – makes a very big effort
  • go to any lengths – do anything he could
  • go a long way
  • go back a long way
  • come a long way
  • take along, hard look

line as track

  • was in line for – likely to get
  • out of line – not suitable
  • along the lines of
  • step out of line
  • line of work
  • be going along/on the right lines
  • along/on the same lines

lines as limits

  • draw the line
  • draw the line at sth
  • draw a line under sth
  • there is a fine/thin line between one thing and another

lines of writting

  • drop me a line – send me a short letter
  • reading between the lines
  • sign on the dotted line
  • the bottom line


  • caught in the act
  • got her act together
  • get in the act
  • put on an act
  • act your age!
  • clean up your act

action and activity

  • a hive of activity – busy place
  • been out of action – not working in the normal way
  • be back in action
  • get a slice/piece of the action
  • being all talk and no action
  • follows/ takes a different course of action

Feelings, relationships and secrets

feelings go up and down

  • brighten up
  • cheer up
  • being hung up – worried
  • break down
  • calm down!
  • cool down

more verbs connected with feelings from horoscopes

  • bottle up – allow yourself to show or talk about your feelings
  • tear yourself apart – make yourself very unhappy
  • get carried away – become so exited about sth that you don’t control what your say or do
  • jump at – accept a chance to do or hace sth
  • warm to sth – become more enthusiastic
  • grow on – you like sth more and more
  • taking to – starting to like sth enthusiastically
  • feel for – feel sorry for sb
  • hang-ups – feelings of embarrassment
  • pull yourself together – become calm after being upset or angry

talking about relationships

  • fall for sb
  • fit in
  • get along
  • ask sb out
  • go out with
  • fall out – having an argument

being attracted to sb

  • hit it off with sb – immediately like sb and become friends with them
  • pair off with sb – start a romantic relationship with them
  • chat sb up – talk in a way that shows that you are sexually attracted to them
  • go for a particular person or thing – like that type of person or thing
  • turn sb on – make them interested, often sexually

relationships: problems

  • spit up
  • drift appart
  • finish with
  • break off
  • grow apart
  • break up
  • let sb down
  • make up
  • ran off with
  • live it down
  • settle down
  • settle for


  • keep sth from sb
  • open up to sb
  • poured out
  • go back on your word
  • let on – tell sth to sb that was supposed to be a secret
  • outpouring – long and emotional expression of sb’s feelings
  • owned up – admit to have done sth wrong


  • keep on at
  • talk down to
  • play down sth
  • pin down
  • have it out with sb
  • wind up
  • mouth off (informal)
  • shut sb up (informal)

The Body

the temple of the spirit

idioms based on the fingers

  • at her fingertips
  • keep your fingers crossed
  • put his finger on the problem
  • he never lifts a finger at home
  • he got his fingers burnt in a financial deal in 2008

idioms based on the thumb and the whole hand

  • given the thumbs up/down – approved/disapproved
  • stick/ stands out like a sore thumb
  • a rule of thumb – useful rule
  • give me a free hand – allows me to take whatever action I want to
  • turn his hand – has the skill to to do unfamiliar jobs without any previous experience
  • got out of hand – got out of control
  • first – hand – from experience/ direct
  • changed hands – been sold to a new owner
  • have my hands full – am very busy
  • try my hand at – try it for the first time
  • keep my hand in – in order not to lose my skill
  • to hand – available
  • give me a hand – help me carry
  • washed my hands of – stopped being involved


stand on your own two feet – be independent

rushed off my feet – extremely busy

kept both feet on the ground – realistic

got cold feet – became afraid to do it

find your feet – get used to things

got off on the wrong foot – started badly

under my feet – in my way

landed/fallen on his feet – be very lucky

got itchy feet – got a desire to travel

heel and toe

dragging her heels – being slow deliberately

digging their heels in – refusing to change their position

keep us on out toes – keep us busy

idioms meaning association

  • i have a bone to pick with you – you have done sth that has annoyed me and we must discuss it
  • i can feel it in my bones – i have a deep feeling deep inside me
  • a bone of contention – people are arguing and disagreeing over it
  • the bare bones – get to the heart

shoulder and arm

  • has a chip on her shoulders – blames other people
  • a shoulder to cry on
  • stand shoulder to shoulder with you
  • gave me the cold shoulder – unfriendly
  • twisted my arm – persuaded me
  • keep her at arm’s length – keep a distance between myself and her


  • pulling your leg
  • hasn’t got a leg to stand on – has nothing to support his claim or position


  • keep your head – keep calm (If you can keep your head when all around are losing theirs, you’ll be a man, my son. (Kipling))
  • lose your head – lose control
  • laugh/scream/shout your head off – very loudly
  • hitting your head against a brick wall – ask sb to do sth which they won’t do
  • bring sth to a head – an unpleasant sit.


  • put ideas into sb’s head
  • get your head around – come to fully accept sth
  • off the top of your head – without thinking about it for very long

other head idioms

  • turns heads – notice sb
  • knock that on the head – put a stop to it
  • keep his head above water – have just enough money to keep a business going
  • bites their heads off – speaks to them angrily
  • keep my head down – say as little as possible in order to avoid arguments


  • make a face
  • keep a straight face
  • put a brave face on sth
  • take sth at face value
  • on the face of it
  • face to face


  • Keep your hair on! Calm down!
  • tearing/pulling her hair out! – getting very anxious
  • didn’t turn a hair – show no reaction at all

neck and chest

  • at each other’s throats
  • make a clean breast of it – tell the truth so that you don’t feel guilty anymore
  • breathing down his neck – paying close attention to what he is doing in a threatening way
  • a real pain in the neck – annoying
  • got it off his chest
  • ramming it down his throat – forcing him to listen to his opinions
  • giving him the cold shoulder – ignoring him


  • couldn’t believe my eyes
  • couldn’t keep my eyes off
  • catch her eye
  • keep an eye on
  • turn a blind eye
  • raised a few eyebrows
  • run/cast your eye over – have a quick look at
  • on the blink – close to break or too old
  • keep one eye on – observe carefully
  • blink of an eye – short time
  • didn’t bat an eyelid – didn’t react at all
  • caught my eye
  • opened my eye to – made me understand
  • a real eye-opener – learnt sth from an event or sit.


  • play it by ear
  • couldn’t believe my ears
  • goes in one ear and out the other
  • I’m all ears

lips, mouth, nose teeth, tongue

  • lip service – believes sth but doesn’t carry it out
  • my lips are sealed
  • by word of mouth
  • mouth watering/ making my mouth water
  • pointing/ sticking your nose into
  • turn your nose up at – refuse
  • gets right up everybody’s nose
  • in the teeth of – despite
  • by the skin of my teeth – escape a disaster
  • lying through his teeth – telling a deliberate lie
  • i bit my tongue – didn’t react
  • on the tip of my tongue


  • open your heart
  • bare your heart/ soul – share a secret
  • pour your heart out – share a secret
  • your heart misses/ skips a beat – feeling excited
  • someone’s heart in the right place – some is good even if they behave in the wrong way
  • break sb’s heart
  • your heart sinks – sad, worried
  • a man/ woman after my own heart
  • talk to someone heart-to-heart
  • take sth to heart


  • lose heart – stop believing that you can success
  • to your heart’s content
  • put your heart and soul into it
  • set your heart on sth
  • know sth by heart


  • have sth on the brain – can’t stop thinking about it
  • pick someone’s brain – ask for info from a person who knows more about
  • the brain drain – used to refer to highly educated people who move from their own country to another one where they get paid more
  • be a load/weight off your mind – relieved
  • have a mind of its own – it doesn’t work the way you want it to
  • make up your mind – decide
  • put/set someone’s mind at rest – help sb to stop worrying
  • at the back of your mind – in your mind always
  • in your mind’s eye – imagination

blood and guts*

*informal, it means very violent

  • cold blooded – unemotional, cruel
  • like getting blood out of a stone – very difficult
  • a gut feeling – instinctive
  • slog/sweat/work your guts out – extremely hard


  • be on someone’s back – constantly criticise sb
  • could do sth with one arm/hand tied behind your back – do sth very easily
  • get/put sb’s back up – offend sb
  • stab sb in the back
  • you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours – help me and i will help you
  • know a place/person/thing like the back of your hand
  • leant/bent over backwards – very hard
  • left without a backward glance – left with no regrets

back (position)

  • is on the back burner – is not being dealt with it now
  • at /in the back beyond – very far from any town
  • sth takes a back seat – something else becomes more important
  • came/fell off the back lorry – has been stolen
  • by/through the back door – not honest

Phones, Socialising, Technology and Computers

  • conversations on the phone

I’ll call back later

Could you put me through to …, please?

We got cut off.

Someone is listening in our conversation.

Put the phone down please!

  • conversations about phoning

I phoned around a couple of companies

They didn’t get back to me yet.

Do you find it hard to get through your parents in …?

Can you put my dad on?

I can never get them to hang up.

  • arranging social gatherings

ask sb over – invite

come over – visit sb at their house

bring sb along – bring sb somewhere

come round – arrive

pop into – go into a place for a short time

have sb round/ around – sb comes to your house for a social visit

  • other socialising verbs

ask after – ask for info

call round – visit sb for a short time

drop in/round – make a short visit to sb, usually without arranging it before

invite sb out – ask sb to go with you to a place

bring sth round – bring sth somewhere

  • electricity

switch/turn on/off

plug in

turn up – make louder

charge up

go off – the alarm clock went off

cut out – suddenly stop working

  • doing technical things

pumping up his tyres

running off twenty copies at the photocopier

loading up the washing machine

measuring out 100 grams of sugar

  • working with files or documents

back your work up everyday – make a copy


type/key them in – use a keyboard to store information

print it out – produce a printed copy

print-out – printed copy of an electronic doc.

zoom in/out – detailed/ less detailed

  • using a network and the internet

log in/on

log off/out

hack into

pick up sth – connect to wifi

scroll across/down/up – move on a webpage

Work, money and business

money makes the world go round

talking informally about your work or career

  • get ahead – be successful
  • take on – accept a responsibility or a job
  • take me on – employ me
  • fill me in – give me the information I need
  • stay down – leave an important job or position so that sb else can do it instead
  • take over – start doing a job
  • carried out – complete sth important
  • step down – leave your job so that sb else can do it
  • hand over – give sb else responsibility or control

work-related phrasal verbs

  • fix up – arrange
  • pencil it in – arrange sth to happen for a particular date
  • knock off – stop working
  • laid off – lose your job
  • follow up – do sth in order to make the effect of an earlier action stronger
  • pull together – work as a group in order to achieve sth
  • leave you to it – leave sb to do sth by themselves

beig busy

  • tied up
  • snowed under
  • piled up
  • catch up with

working hard

  • branching out – starting to do sth different
  • working on
  • working towards
  • keep at – continue
  • move along – develop satisfactorily
  • squeeze in
  • wriggle put of – avoid doing sth in a dishonest way

money: informal and formal

  • take out – withdraw
  • cut back – reduce
  • pay back – repay
  • come to – total

paying bills and debts

  • pay off – pay back
  • pay up – pay back especially when you don’t want to
  • ran up – cause you to owe a large amount of money
  • settle up – pay back

other verbs connected with money

  • save up
  • set aside
  • write that off – accept that an amount of money will be lost
  • won’t get it back – won’t be returned
  • give away
  • pick up – buy
  • knockdown – very cheap

shopping and buying goods

  • beat sb down – make sb reduce the price of sth
  • knocked 10% off – reduced the price
  • picked it up – bought it up at a cheap price
  • club together – put our money together as a group
  • ripped sb off – cheated me by making me pay too much
  • shop around – look at different shops and compare prices
  • snap it up – buy it quickly because the price is good
  • fork out – pay for sth

other buying verbs

  • stock up – buy large quantities of
  • skimp on – spend too little money on or use too little of
  • splashed out – spend a lot of money on sth you did not really need
  • ran up – caused ourselves to have to pay
  • selling off – selling to get rid of them
  • sell out – have none left

starting and doing business

  • started up – created
  • set up – started
  • hiring out – allow people to use sth for a short time in exchange for money
  • ran into – reach a particular level
  • spin-off – extra business in some way related to an earlier successful business
  • set-up – business arrangement

ups and downs in business

  • sold up – sold a business
  • outlets – shops
  • turnover – amount of money or business made by a company in a period of time
  • take over – get control of a company by buying most of its shares
  • winding down – gradually reducing the amount of work being done until it closes completely
  • upkeep – cost or process of keeping a building or sth in good condition
  • poured a lot of money into – provided a lot of money for sth over a long period of time
  • puts at it around a million- roughly calculates at a particular amount
  • going under – failing financially
  • runs to – reaches a particular amount, usually a large amount
  • takeover – act of gaining control of a company