'A to Z' List of Phrasal Verbs

Phrasal verbs are frequently used in spoken English as well as informal texts. You will also come across these in the verbal section of various competitive exams. As the name suggests, a phrasal verb is composed of two or three words, including a verb and an adverb or preposition. Generally, the meaning of the phrasal verb is not very obvious from the main verb.
The meaning differs due to the accompanying preposition or adverb. Example: ‘look up’ and ‘look down’ are two phrasal verbs with different meanings. In this series of articles, you will learn about the commonly used phrasal verbs and their meanings. Each article consists of 10-20 phrasal verbs explained with the help of examples. The lists are arranged in the alphabetical order of phrases.
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List of Phrasal Verbs – 1
Phrasal verbs starting with letter A
Phrasal Verb Meaning Examples
Abide by respect or obey. (the law, a decision, a rule) If you want to stay at this school, you must abide by the rules.
Account for explain, give a reason I hope you can account for the money you spent!
Add up make sense, seem reasonable Her story just doesn't add up.
Advise against recommend not doing something The doctor advised him against carrying heavy loads.
Agree with have the same opinion as somebody else. I agree with you. I think she deserves the award too.
Aim at point something in the direction of a target The policeman aimed his gun at the hijacker.
Allow for take into consideration,  include in a calculation You'd better leave early to allow for traffic jams.
Appeal to 1. plead or make an earnest request
2. be attractive or interesting                                        
1. The organizers appealed to the crowd to stay calm.
2. A trekking holiday doesn't appeal to me.
Apply for make a formal request for something, (job, permit, loan etc.) He applied for the job he saw advertised in the newspaper.
Avail (oneself) of take advantage of something (an opportunity) When the company is privatized, you should avail yourself of the opportunity and buy some shares.
List of Phrasal Verbs – 2
Phrasal verbs starting with letter B
Phrasal Verb Meaning Examples
Back away move backwards, in fear or dislike When he saw the dog, he backed away.
Back down withdraw,  concede defeat Local authorities backed down on their plans to demolish the building.
Back up 1. give support or encouragement
2. make a copy of (file, program, etc.)
1. If I tell the boss we've got too much work, will you back me up?
2. It is recommended to back up all files in a secure location.
Bail out 1. pay money to secure someone's release
2. rescue from financial difficulties
1. When he was arrested, his family refused to bail him out.
2. The government bailed out the bank.
Bank on base your hopes on someone/something Don't forget the date. I'm banking on your help.
Boil down to be summarized as The problem boils down to a lack of money.
Boot up start a computer by loading an operating system or program. Just give me a few minutes to boot up the computer.
Break away escape from captivity A few horses broke away from the paddock.
Break down 1. go out of order, cease to function
2. lose control of one's emotions    
1. Nitish's car broke down so he had to take the bus.
2. The parents broke down when they heard the bad news.
Break into enter by force Burglars broke into the house around midnight.
Break out start suddenly Rioting broke out as a result of the strike.
Break out of escape from a place by force Three prisoners broke out of jail.
Break up come to an end (marriage, relationship) After her marriage broke up, Seema went to live in London.
Bring up raise (a child) She stopped working in order to bring up her children.
Brush up on improve, refresh one's knowledge of something Meena had to brush up on her English before going to America.
Bump into meet by accident or unexpectedly Padma bumped into her English teacher at the supermarket.
Burn out 1. stop (something) working
2. become exhausted from over-working
1. The fuse has burnt out.
2. Tom will burn himself out if he doesn't slow down.
List of Phrasal Verbs – 3
Phrasal verbs starting with letter C
Phrasal Verb Meaning Examples
Call back return a phone call I'll call you back as soon as possible.
Call off cancel The meeting was called off because of the strike.
Call on/upon formally invite or request I now call upon the President to address the assembly.
Calm down become more relaxed, less angry or upset He was angry at first but he eventually calmed down.
Carry on continue He carried on gardening in spite of the rain.
Carry out 1. do something as specified  (a plan, an order, a threat)
2. perform or conduct (test, experiment)
1. The plan was carried out to perfection.
2. Tests are carried out to determine the efficiency of a new drug.
Carry over postpone until later As regards holidays, can you carry over any days from one year to the next?
Check in register at a hotel or airport For security reasons you have to check in two hours before your flight.
Check out 1. pay one's bill and leave (a hotel)
2. investigate
1. Is Mr. Kumar still at the hotel?  No, he checked out this morning.
2. I don't know if the address is still valid. I'll check it out.
Clam up refuse to speak When the teacher arrived she clammed up.
Clamp down on act strictly to prevent something The government has decided to clamp down on smoking in public places.
Come across 1. find by chance
2. appear, seem, make an impression
1. Veena came across some photographs of her grandparents in the store room.
2. The candidate came across as a dynamic person during the interview.
Come forward  present oneself The police have asked any witnesses to come forward.
Come up against be faced with or opposed by The project came up against a lot of criticism.
Count on rely or depend on (for help) I'm counting on the taxi driver to find the theatre.
Cross out remove by drawing a line through In some exercises, you are asked to cross out the incorrect word.
Cut down on reduce in number or size The doctor told him to cut down on cigarettes.
Cut out 1. remove using scissors
2. stop doing something
1. She cut out a picture in a magazine.
2. I'm going to cut out eating between meals.
List of Phrasal Verbs – 4
Phrasal verbs starting with letters D-F
Phrasal Verb Meaning Examples
Deal with handle, take care of  (problem, situation) The manager is good at dealing with difficult customers.
Die down calm down, become less strong When the applause died down, she started to sing.
Do without manage without The shops are closed so we'll have to do without sugar.
Drag on last longer than expected We expected a short speech but it dragged on and on!
Draw up write (contract, agreement, document) An agreement was drawn up and signed by the two parties.
Dress up 1. wear elegant clothes
2. disguise oneself
1. Do people dress up to go to the opera in your country?
2. Children love to dress up at Halloween.
Drop in visit, usually on the way somewhere I sometimes drop in to see my grandparents on my way home from school.
Drop off 1. deliver someone or something
2. fall asleep
1. I'll drop you off at the bus stop if you like.
2. Granddad often drops off in front of the TV.
Drop out leave school without finishing She decided to go to art school then dropped out after the first term.
End in finish in a certain way; result in Their marriage ended in divorce.
Ease off reduce, become less severe or slow down  (pain, traffic, work) After Christmas the workload generally eases off.
End up finally reach a state, place or action If he continues his misconduct he'll end up in prison.
Even out 1. eliminate differences of opinion.
2. become level or regular
1. After a long discussion they managed to even out their differences.
2. The road was evened out to make it safer.
Fall through fail; doesn't happen Our planned boat trip fell through because of the storm.
Figure out understand, find the answer I'm trying to figure out how to assemble the bookshelves.
Fill out complete (a form/an application) Please fill out the enclosed form and return it as soon as possible.
Find out discover or obtain information I'm going to call the cinema to find out what time the film starts.
Focus on concentrate on something The advertising campaign will focus on the quality of the product.
List of Phrasal Verbs – 5
Phrasal verbs starting with letter G
Phrasal Verb Meaning Examples
Get along (with) be on good terms; work well with I get along (well) with my mother-in-law.
Get at imply What exactly are you trying to get at?
Get away escape The robbers got away in a black car.
Get by manage to cope or to survive It's difficult to get by on a low salary.
Get in enter How did the thief get in?
Get into (+noun) enter How did the thief get into the house?
Get off 1. leave (bus, train, plane)
2. remove
1. You should get off the bus at the main market of the town.
2. She can't get the stain off her sweater.
Get on board (bus, train, plane) You can pay when you get on the bus.
Get on with (something) continue to do; make progress Be quiet and get on with your homework.
Get on (well) with (somebody) have a good relationship with I get on very well with my colleagues.
Get out leave How did he get out?
Get out of (+noun) leave How did he get out of the house?
Get out of avoid doing something Some husbands manage to get out of doing any housework.
Get over recover from (illness, disappointment) My grandmother had pneumonia but she got over it.
Get rid of eliminate It's difficult to get rid of old habits.
Get together meet each other Let's get together for lunch on day.
Get up rise, leave bed I usually get up at 7 o'clock.
Give up stop doing something Rajesh gave up smoking 5 years ago.
Go through experience Priya went through a lot of pain after the accident.
Grow up spend one's childhood; develop; become an adult He grew up in a small village in the mountains.
List of Phrasal Verbs – 6
Phrasal verbs starting with letters H-L
Phrasal Verb Meaning Examples
Hand in submit (report, homework) All application forms must be handed in before the end of the month.
Hand out distribute Samples will be handed out at the end of the demonstration.
Hang up end a phone conversation "Don't hang up. I haven't finished yet."
Hit at aim a blow at He hit at the wasp with the newspaper.
Hit back retaliate; reply to an attack When he was attacked by the others, the boy hit back.
Hit on/upon find unexpectedly or by inspiration She hit upon an idea for her new collection.
Hold on 1. wait
2. grip tightly
1. "Hold on please.  I'll put you through to Mr. Khanna"
2. She held on to the railing as she crossed the bridge.
Hurry up be quick, act speedily Hurry up! We'll miss the bus.
Iron out resolve by discussion, eliminate differences The meeting tomorrow will be an opportunity to iron out difficulties.
Join in participate She was too shy to join in the game.
Join up 1. engage in, become a member of
2. meet and unite with
1. Deven was in the Army and Shekher joined up as soon as he left school.
2. The two groups of tourists joined up at the hotel.
Jot down take quick notes I jotted down the address while watching the programme on TV.
Keep on continue doing something It told him to be quiet but he kept on making noise.
Keep up with stay at the same level as someone or something Karan walks so fast it's difficult to keep up with him.
Kick off begin, start The football match kicked off at 3 o'clock.
Leave out omit, not mention The child's name was left out of the report.
Let down disappoint You promised to come to the party, so don't let me down!
Look after take care of A babysitter looks after the children when their parents go out.
Look ahead think of the future It's time to forget the past and look ahead.
Look down on consider as inferior He tends to look down on anyone who is not successful.
Look on be a spectator at an event Billu didn't take part in the fight.  He just looked on.
Look for try to find something Seema went to the shops to look for a pair of shoes.
Look forward to await or anticipate with pleasure I look forward to seeing you soon.
Look up to admire He was a wonderful teacher and many students looked up to him.
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List of Phrasal Verbs – 7
Phrasal verbs starting with letters M-P
Phrasal Verb Meaning Examples
Make fun of laugh at/ make jokes about The old lady dresses so strangely that the kids make fun of her.
Make up invent (excuse, story) Some employees make up excuses when they arrive late for work.
Mix up mistake one thing or person for another I don't know my neighbours' names yet.  I keep mixing them up.
Move in arrive in a new home or office You've bought a new house? When are you moving in?
Move out leave your home/office for another one. My neighbour is leaving.  He's moving out next Saturday.
Nod off fall asleep My grandfather often nods off in front of the television.
Note down write something I'll call the station and note down the departure times.
Opt out leave a system or decide not to participate I enjoy tennis but I'm so busy I had to opt out of the tournament.
Own up admit or confess something The boy owned up.  He said he kicked the ball through the window.
Pass away die The old lady passed away peacefully.
Pass out faint She passed out when she heard the bad news.
Pay back reimburse I'll lend you Rs. 20 provided you pay me back before the end of the week.
Put off postpone, arrange a later date The meeting was put off because of the strike.
Put on turn on, switch on Could you put on the light please?
Put out extinguish It took a long time to put out the fire.
Put up accommodate, give somebody a bed We can put you up if you'd like to come for a week-end.
Pick up collect somebody I'll pick you up at the station when you arrive.
Point out indicate/direct attention to something She pointed out the mistake.
List of Phrasal Verbs – 8
Phrasal verbs starting with letters R-T
Phrasal Verb Meaning Examples
Rely on count on, depend on, trust Don't worry.  You can rely on me.  I can keep a secret.
Rule out eliminate The police ruled out political motives.
Run away escape from a place or suddenly leave He ran away from home at the age of fourteen.
Run into meet by accident or unexpectedly (also: bump into) Sheetal ran into Meera at the shopping centre.
Shop around compare prices It's always wise to shop around before buying anything.
Show off brag or want to be admired There's Devesh showing off in his new sports car!
Show up appear/arrive We expected Deepak to come but he didn't show up.
Shut up  (impolite)      be silent, stop talking Oh shut up, you idiot!
Sit down take a seat Please come in and sit down.
Stand up rise from a sitting position The pupils stood up when the headmaster arrived.
Stick up for defend It's important to stick up for one's principles.
Take after resemble, in appearance or character Jagat really takes after his dad.
Take care of look after I'll take care of your plants while you're away.
Take off leave the ground The plane took off at 6 a.m.
Take on hire or engage staff Business is good so the company is taking on extra staff.
Take out remove; extract She took out a pen to note the address.
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