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List of 390 Most Common English Phrasal Verbs and Their Definitions

Phrasal verbs combine a base verb with another word, usually a preposition or adverb – known as a particle – to create a completely new meaning. They are common in everyday spoken English. For example, words like “stand up,” “sit down,” and “get up.”

Phrasal Verbs

It’s impossible for an English speaker in the United States to go a day without using one of those words.

Interestingly, we don’t use phrasal verbs as much when we write, or in formal communication, like in a speech. But in normal spoken English, about 80 percent of our verbs are phrasal verbs.

If you studied the English language for years, then came to the United States and couldn’t understand anything, this is probably one of the reasons why.

List of Common English Phrasal Verbs and their Meanings:

Phrasal Verb Common Definition Total Number of Definitions
Aim At To point a weapon at someone or something. 3
Ask For To request something. 2
Ask Out When you ask someone to go with you to a certain place or for a special occasion, to spend time together and have fun. If one or both parties involved are interested in a romantic way, then it is considered a date. 1
Back Down To withdraw your position in a fight, argument, plan, etc. 1
Back Off When you leave an emotional situation, or to allow someone to handle something alone. 1
Back Up To walk or drive a vehicle backwards. 4
Beat Up When someone punches, kicks, or hits someone repeatedly using fists or with an object. 2
Beef Up To make changes or an improvement. 1
Believe In To feel confident about something or someone. 2
Bite Off To use your teeth to bite a piece of something. 2
Blow Away When the wind moves an object or person from where it was. 4
Blow Off When the wind removes something from its place. 3
Blow Out To extinguish or make a flame stop burning. 3
Blow Up To make something explode. 6
Boil Down To To have determined or analyzed the solution or reason for something. 1
Break Down When someone loses self-control and is emotionally and/or mentally agitated. This meaning has a noun form for a situation where someone loses self-control. 6
Break In To enter a place illegally and with the use of force. 3
Break Off To remove a part of something with force. 4
Break Out To escape from a place, situation or way of life. 3
Break Through To make a way through a barrier or a surface. 2
Break Up To stop a fight. 4
Bring Back To return something you’ve borrowed. 4
Bring Over To bring someone or something from one place or area to another. 1
Bring Up To bring something from a lower level/place to a higher level/place. 3
Brush Off To remove something(dust particle, insect, etc) with your hand. 2
Brush Up To practice and review your knowledge or a skill that you haven’t used in a while. 2
Build In/Into To add a fixture or component to a certain area or place through construction. 1
Bump Into When you meet people by accident or unexpectedly. 2
Burn Down When someone uses fire to destroy a structure. 2
Burn Out When a candle stops burning because there is nothing left to burn. 3
Burn Up To destroy something with heat or fire. 4
Burst Out To suddenly do or say something. 2
Butt In To interrupt a conversation or activity. 1
Call Back To call someone again. 2
Call In To request that someone come and help. 3
Call Off To cancel an event that has been previously planned. 2
Call Up To be chosen to take part in a military mission. 2
Calm Down To become less violent, nervous, excited or angry. 1
Care For To nurture or take care of someone or something. 2
Carry Away To do something out of the ordinary due to strong emotions. 2
Carry On To continue doing something or to continue on in life despite an obstacle. 3
Carry Out To move something or someone from one place to another using your arms or an object. 5
Catch On To understand or realize something. 2
Catch Up To move faster to reach someone or something that is ahead of you. 2
Cheat On When you are emotionally and/or sexually unfaithful to your girlfriend/boyfriend or spouse. 2
Check In To register at a hotel or airport upon arrival. 2
Check Out To leave a hotel or other form of an accommodation after your stay there. 5
Chicken Out To refrain from doing something because of fear. 1
Chop Up To cut something into pieces with a knife. 2
Clean Out To clean or clear the inside of something thoroughly. 3
Clear Out To remove things completely from an area or place. 2
Clear Up To do something to solve a problem or a misunderstanding. 3
Clog Up When something in a drain or valve prevents the flow of water or other liquids 1
Close Down When the activities or services of a business permanently end. 3
Close Off To block an entrance or pathway. 2
Come About When something happens or occurs. 1
Come Across The way other people perceive something or someone. 3
Come Apart When something breaks or separates piece by piece. 1
Come Back To return to a place. 3
Come Down To move from a higher to a lower position or from north to south. 2
Come Down To When a situation is reduced to a certain outcome. 1
Come Down With When you start to experience the symptoms of a disease or illness. 1
Come In When someone or something enters a place, building, or room. 7
Come Off When something is removed or breaks off from where it was originally attached to. 4
Come On To appear on television or be heard on the radio. 5
Come Out To leave a place. 8
Come Over To make a visit. 3
Come Through When someone or something expected arrives. 3
Come Up When something appears or happens, either expected or unexpected. 6
Come Up With When you think of a solution, idea, plan, or excuse. 1
Con Into To persuade someone to do something through lies and deception. 1
Con Out Of To persuade someone to give or do something through lies and deception. 1
Cool Off To lose temperature. 2
Count On To rely on someone for support when you need it most. 2
Count Up To count all of something or people in a group. 1
Cover Up  To use something to conceal something else. 2
Crack Down To take more action than usual against wrongdoing. 1
Cross Off To remove or delete someone or something from a list. 1
Cut Back When you spend less money on something. 4
Cut Down To do less of something or to use something in smaller amounts. 3
Cut Off To completely remove or separate a part of something by cutting it with something sharp like a knife or a pair of scissors, etc. 6
Cut Out To remove something using a knife or a pair of scissors. 5
Cut Up When you use a knife or scissors to cut something into several pieces. 2
Deal With When you do everything you must do to solve a problem or complete. 2
Do Away With To dispose of something. 2
Do Over To do something again in order to improve or correct mistakes. 2
Do With To make a connection between two or more things. 1
Do Without To manage well without something or someone. 1
Doze Off To go to sleep unintentionally. 1
Dress Up To wear formal clothes, or a costume for a special occasion. 1
Drop In To visit someone unexpectedly or without making arrangements first. 2
Drop Off To gradually decline/become less. 2
Drop Out To quit a school program or training course. 1
Dry Off To dry something or a surface quickly. 1
Dry Out To remove water or other liquid from a container. 3
Dry Up When all the liquid and/or moisture evaporates. 2
Eat Up When someone consumes all their food. 3
Empty Out To remove everyone or everything from a space. 1
End Up The end result of something planned or unplanned. 1
Fall Apart When something breaks all at once or piece by piece. 3
Fall Behind To move slower than others. 2
Fall Down To fall to the ground. 1
Fall For When you have an intense attraction to something or someone. 2
Fall Off When something drops to a lower level. 2
Fall Out To fall from or through something. 3
Fall Over When someone or something falls from an upright position to the ground. 2
Fall Through If things do not go as planned, or if a plan, deal or agreement fails. 2
Feel Up To When you have/don’t have the energy and confidence to do something. 1
Fight Back When you defend yourself/resist an attack, or make an effort against an opponent in a competition. 2
Figure On To expect or plan for something. 1
Fill In To add personal information in the blank spaces of an official document. 3
Fill Out To complete a form. 2
Fill Up To fill something completely. 3
Find Out To become aware of something or someone. 1
Fix Up To make plans or arrangements with someone or for others. 4
Flip Out To become very mad or lose control over your emotions. 1
Float Around When an object or a person is near, but you cannot pinpoint the exact location. 2
Follow Up To find out more about something, or take further action in regards to it. 1
Fool Around To waste time doing unimportant or silly things. 4
Freak Out When someone becomes irrationally upset or angry, sometimes to the point of confusion. 1
Get Ahead To become successful in the professional environment or make consistent progress in life. 3
Get Along To have good interactions with others. 2
Get Around To To do something that needed to get done at an earlier time. 1
Get Away To escape from something. 2
Get Back To return to a place. 4
Get Back At To get revenge. 1
Get Back To When you talk to someone at a later time either because you are busy or you have obtained additional or new information. 2
Get Behind To learn, work, or progress more slowly than others. 4
Get By To pass someone or something. 3
Get Down To move to a lower place or level. 4
Get In To arrive or enter a place, room, building, etc. 5
Get Off To leave a form of transportation, except a car. 6
Get Off On To be excited or to truly enjoy doing something. 2
Get On When you move your body and either stand, sit, lie, kneel, etc. towards something (non-separable). 6
Get Out To leave or escape. 6
Get Out Of To receive a benefit and/or satisfaction from doing something. 4
Get Over To move past an obstacle to the other side. 3
Get Over With To finish something that needs to get done. 1
Get Through When a message, meaning, or idea is understood or accepted. 6
Get To To arrive to or assist someone to a place. 5
Get Together To meet and spend time together. 3
Get Up To move to a higher level/position. 4
Give Away To give something for free or without expecting anything in return. 4
Give In To surrender to something. 2
Give Out To distribute something. 4
Give Up To stop doing something without completing it. 4
Go About  To take the necessary steps to get something done. 2
Go After When you do your best to get something no matter how difficult it is. 4
Go Ahead To proceed to do something that you were hesitant about. 2
Go Along With to accept or agree with a decision, rule, opinion, etc. 2
Go Around To follow a circular path. 6
Go Away To move or travel from one place to another place. 3
Go Back To return to a place, time, activity, or a person. 2
Go Back On When you fail to fulfill a promise you made to someone. 1
Go Beyond To be more than or better than what is normal or expected. 1
Go By To pass someone or something quickly. 4
Go Down To move to a lower position, place, price, level, etc. 7
Go For To try to obtain. 5
Go In To enter a place, building, room, etc. 3
Go In For To enter a place or area for a specific reason. 2
Go In/Into To enter a place, room, building, etc. usually through a door. 4
Go Off To leave unannounced. 5
Go On When something takes place. 3
Go Out To leave a place or area you’re in. 5
Go Over To review something. 4
Go Through With When you make a decision to do something, and actually do it. 1
Go Up To move or extend to a higher level or farther North. 3
Go With To accompany someone to a place. 6
Goof Around To waste time doing silly or unimportant things. 1
Gross Out To be disgusted with someone or something. 1
Grow Out Of To become too big or too tall for your clothes. 3
Grow Up When you physically change from a child to an adult. 2
Hand Back When you return something to the person who owns it after the person has given it to you 1
Hand In To give something to a person of authority. 1
Hand Out To distribute something free to other people. 1
Hand Over To give upon request or demand. 2
Hang Around To spend time in a place or an area. 1
Hang On When you hold something, often for support of comfort. 3
Hang Out To hang something, usually wet clothes, to dry. 3
Hang Up To hang clothes or an object on a hook, hanger or rod. 3
Have On To wear clothing, cosmetics, perfume, etc. 2
Head Back To go to a place where you’ve been before or where you started from. 1
Head For When a situation becomes more likely. 2
Head Toward To move in the direction where someone or something is. 2
Hear About When you learn details about something or someone. 1
Hear Of When you learn about something or someone. 2
Heat Up To make something warmer or cause a rise in temperature. 2
Help Out To assist people with something. 1
Hit On To suddenly have a solution to a problem or an interesting idea. 2
Hold Against When you don’t forgive or have little respect for someone because of something they did. 2
Hold Off To delay something. 2
Hold On When you wait for a short time. 3
Hold Out To extend your hand or an object in front of you. 3
Hold Up To hold someone or something up in the air. 4
Hook Up When you connect two electrical devices together. 3
Hurry Up To do something quickly. 2
Keep At To continue doing an activity even though it may be difficult. 1
Keep Away To avoid getting close to someone or something. 2
Keep Down To make sound, music and noise minimal. 3
Keep From To stop yourself or other people from doing something. 1
Keep Off To avoid discussing a particular subject or topic. 2
Keep On To continue doing something. 2
Keep To When you don’t share information. 2
Keep Up To continue to do something. 4
Kick Back To illegally pay extra money to someone as part of the price. 2
Kick Out To force someone to leave an organization or place. 1
Knock Off To use force to cause someone or something to fall from its place, whether intentionally or accidentally. 6
Knock Out When someone is struck hard enough to cause them to lose consciousness. 6
Knock Over To make contact with something or someone in such a way it or they fall. 1
Know About To have knowledge of or be familiar with something. 1
Lay Down To place something on a surface or an object. 3
Lay Off When a company or business ends a worker’s employment. 2
Lead Up To When a period of time or a series of events cause an event, situation or conversation to happen. 1
Leave Behind When you don’t take something or someone with you when you leave. 4
Leave Off To accidentally or intentionally not include a person or thing on a list. 2
Leave Out To not include someone or something. 3
Leave Over When you have a portion that still remains from something after you have used or eaten the rest of it. 2
Let Down To disappoint someone. 2
Let In To allow someone or something to enter a place. 2
Let Off To allow someone to leave a car, bus, train etc. 3
Let On To tell something that is a secret or private. 1
Let Out When you give permission for someone to leave or be released from a place. 3
Let Up When someone or something becomes less intense or strong. 1
Lie Around To be lazy or to not do anything. 2
Lift Up To raise someone or something to a higher level. 2
Light Up To illuminate something. 2
Lighten Up When a conversation is changed or a person changes to become less serious. 1
Line Up To form in a row one after another or side-by-side. 3
Live With To share the same residence. 2
Lock In To secure people or things behind a closed door. 3
Lock Out When you don’t have the key or passcode to enter a secured place. 2
Lock Up When you shut the windows and doors of a place or building. 2
Look Around To turn your head to see what or who is around you. 3
Look At  To divert your eyes to someone or something. 4
Look Down On When you consider someone or something as unimportant or with little to no value. The opposite of yesterday’s phrasal verb. 1
Look Forward To To anticipate a future event because it either makes you happy and/or you benefit from it. 1
Look Into To investigate or get more facts about something. 1
Look Out To remain alert. 2
Look Over To examine or inspect something or someone. 1
Look Up When a situation becomes better. 3
Look Up To This particular phrasal verb is used to say you view someone with respect and/or admiration. 1
Luck Out To have exceptionally good luck. 1
Make For  To go in a certain direction, typically in a hurry. 2
Make Of To understand the meaning of something. 1
Make Up To invent a story. 7
Mess Up When something is dirty or unorganized. 2
Mix Up To put or combine different things together so they’ll merge successfully. 3
Monkey Around With To try to play with or repair a device that you have no true knowledge about. 2
Move In When you bring your personal belongings and stuff to a new place where you will live. Yesterday’s phrasal verb, Move Out, has the opposite meaning. 3
Move Out When you permanently remove all your belongings and personal items from a place where you live or stay. 3
Narrow Down To reduce the number of options or possibilities. 1
Pay Back When you return money that you owe someone. 2
Pay For To purchase merchandise. 2
Pay Off To repay money that is owed to a person or entity. 3
Pay Up To pay all the money that is owed or asked for. 1
Pick On To tease and/or criticize someone over a period of time. 1
Pick Out When you are able to recognize something or someone from a group. 2
Pick Up To get someone or something from somewhere. 8
Pile Up  To put things in a pile or heap. 2
Piss Off [Informal] To be angry about something. 1
Plan Ahead To prepare for a future event or situation. 1
Plan For To prepare for a big event or expectation in the future. 1
Plan On When you have the intention to do something. 1
Plug In To connect an electrical device to an electrical outlet. 2
Plug In/Into To connect an electrical appliance/machine to another piece of equipment or to a power source. 1
Plug Up To block a narrow passage such as a hole, drain, or pipe so that nothing can flow through. 2
Point Out To make someone aware of something. 1
Point To When you aim at something or someone using your finger or hand. 2
Print Out To produce a hard copy of a computer document. 1
Pull Off To succeed in doing something difficult or tricky. 2
Pull Out When something or someone leaves a place. 7
Pull Over To drive your vehicle to the side of the road to stop. 1
Pull Through To recover from an injury or illness. 2
Punch In To enter data or record time on a device. 1
Punch Out To record the time you leave the workplace using a special clock. 2
Put Away To place something where it cannot be seen or isn’t in the way of other things. 4
Put Back When something is causing a project to slow down. 4
Put Down To place something on a surface or an object. 6
Put In When you invest or make a deposit. In this example, the amount almost always separates the verb. 7
Put Off To become offended by someone or something. 2
Put Out To extend a part of your body. 6
Put Past To not be surprised by a person’s actions. [Always used with the negative] 1
Put To To cause someone or something to be in a certain state or to do something extra. 2
Put Together To assemble or connect the parts of something. 3
Put Up To move an object to a higher level. 6
Put Up To To encourage or persuade someone to do something. 2
Put Up With To tolerate or accept something that you’d rather not. 1
Ring Up To call someone on the phone. 2
Rip Off When someone asks for a price for something that is too high, when someone cheats or steals. 3
Rip Up To tear something (i.e. paper, cloth, etc.) into pieces. 2
Rule Out When someone or something is excluded as a possibility. 1
Run Across To move or run from one side to the other. 2
Run Around To go from one place to another in a hurry. 3
Run Down To hit someone or something with a vehicle. 4
Run Into When something collides with another object by accident. 4
Run Out When people exit a place very quickly. Run In/ Run Into is the opposite of this meaning. 2
Run Over When someone is injured or killed by a vehicle. 5
Run Up To run from a lower elevation or level to a higher elevation or level. 5
Screw On To ensure the top of a container/bottle is sealed. 2
Screw Out Of To cheat or deceive someone. 1
Screw Up To make a mistake or do something really bad. 1
See About To seriously think about doing something. 1
Sell Out When all the inventory of a particular product has been purchased. 2
Set Up To organize or plan for an activity/event to happen. 6
Settle Down To begin living a stable and routine life. 2
Settle For To accept something even though it’s not what you want or need. 1
Shake Up To mix something in a container by shaking it. 3
Show Off To overly display your skills or what you have. 1
Shut Off To stop the operation of an electrical or mechanical device. 1
Shut Up To stop talking. 1
Sign In To write your name on a list to indicate the day and time you arrived at a certain place. 2
Sign Out To write your name on a list to indicate the day and time of your departure. 2
Sit Down To change from a standing to a sitting position. 2
Slow Down To do something slower. 1
Sneak In/Into To enter a place quietly to avoid being seen or heard. 1
Sneak Out To leave a place without being noticed. 1
Sort Out To arrange or separate things into groups according to similarities. 2
Space Out When someone’s attention is not in the present moment. [Adj.] {spaced out} To describe a person whose attention isn’t in the present moment. 1
Stand Around To stand in one place or area when you should be doing something. 2
Stand For To support or represent an idea, belief, etc. 1
Stand Up To rise from sitting or lying down to a vertical position. 3
Start Off The beginning of an event, activity or time period. 4
Start Out To begin a trip or venture to some place. 3
Start Up To start something. 2
Stay Off To avoid discussing a certain subject or topic. 4
Stay Out To spend time out of your own home. 3
Stay Up To remain in a place that is higher than ground level. 2
Step On To place your foot on something or someone. 2
Stick Around To stay in a place or with someone for any period of time. 1
Stick Out To extend something outward. 4
Stick To When something is attached to another by some form of adhesive. 2
Stick Up To use a weapon, especially a gun, to rob someone. 4
Stick With To continue to use or do something. 3
Stop Off To make a quick stop on your way to a destination. 1
Stop Over To visit someone for a short period of time. 2
Straighten Out To make something straight. 3
Stress Out To feel very worried, nervous or anxious. 1
Switch Off When you move something from the ‘on’ state to the ‘off’ state. Synonymous with “Turn Off.” Yesterday’s “Switch On” is the opposite. 1
Switch On When you move something from the ‘off’ state to the ‘on’ state. Synonymous with “Turn On,” while “Switch Off” is the opposite. 1
Take Apart To disconnect or separate the parts of an object. 1
Take Back To return something or someone. 5
Take In To be successfully tricked or deceived by someone. 5
Take Out To remove an object from an area, place or container. 4
Take Out On To direct your anger towards someone or something when you’re really upset about someone or something else. 1
Take Up On When you accept an invitation or offer from someone. 1
Talk Down To To talk to someone as if they are less intelligent than you by conveying a tone of voice or attitude that says so. 1
Talk Into To convince someone to do something. 1
Talk Out Of To convince someone not to do something. 1
Talk To To have a conversation with someone. 1
Tear Down To deconstruct a building or home. 2
Tear Off To remove with force. 2
Tell Apart To be able to differentiate something or someone from something or someone else. 1
Tell On To inform an authoritative figure about what someone else did. 1
Think About To consider something prior to making a final decision. 2
Think Ahead To think and plan carefully for a future situation or event. 1
Think Up To use your imagination to create a plan, idea, or a solution. 1
Throw Away To dispose of something you no longer find useful in a waste bin, trash, etc. 2
Throw Out When you get rid of something by putting it in a trash can, bin, etc. 2
Throw Up To vomit or puke. 3
Track Down To locate someone or something after a long search 1
Trade In To exchange something old for something new. 2
Trick Into To convince or persuade someone to believe something untrue or to do something for you. 1
Try On To see how something fits or looks before purchasing. 1
Try Out To show that you are qualified to do something. 2
Turn Around When someone or something moves until it faces the opposite direction. 3
Turn Down To decrease the temperature, sound, etc. 2
Turn In To give someone or something to the police or someone of authority. 3
Turn Into To transform. 1
Turn Off To stop a device from functioning. 3
Turn On To cause someone to feel interested and/or attracted. 3
Turn Out To attend an event, meeting, etc. 4
Turn Over To move an object so that the part that is on top becomes the bottom and vice versa. 3
Turn Up To increase the controls of an electronic or mechanical device. 3
Use Up To completely consume or use all of a supply. 1
Wake Up When you are finished sleeping. 2
Wash Off To remove dirt or unwanted markings with soap and water. 1
Wash Up To clean your face, hands, body, etc. 3
Watch Out To be aware of someone or something. 1
Wear Down To make the surface or top of something disappear due to friction. 2
Wear Off To decrease or disappear gradually. 1
Wear Out When something is damaged or weakened from use and age. 2
Wind Up To operate a mechanical device by turning its handle. 4
Wipe Off To completely remove or clean something from a surface or location. 1
Wipe Out To clean the inside of something. 4
Wipe Up To remove liquid from a surface using a sponge, towel or cloth, etc. 1
Work In To make time in a busy schedule for a person or an activity. 2
Work Out When a situation, event, plan, or idea is successful. 6
Work Up To gradually improve at or make progress in something. 3
Wrap Up To cover something with some kind of special paper. 4
Zip Up To close an item that has a zipper. 1

Answers to common questions about phrasal verbs:

Does your phrasal verbs list include the most common phrasal verbs?

Yes, you will find that our list of phrasal verbs includes all the most common phrasal verbs in English.

Do you have phrasal verb examples?

Yes, if you click on any of these phrasal verbs you’ll be taken to a page with examples of how that phrasal verb is used.

Additional useful information lessons about English phrasal verbs: