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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 VerbMeaning (Most Common)Total Number of Definitions
Aim AtTo point a weapon at someone or something.3
Ask ForTo request something.2
Ask OutWhen 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 DownTo withdraw your position in a fight, argument, plan, etc.1
Back OffWhen you leave an emotional situation, or to allow someone to handle something alone.1
Back UpTo walk or drive a vehicle backwards.4
Beat UpWhen someone punches, kicks, or hits someone repeatedly using fists or with an object.2
Beef UpTo make changes or an improvement.1
Believe InTo feel confident about something or someone.2
Bite OffTo use your teeth to bite a piece of something.2
Blow AwayWhen the wind moves an object or person from where it was.4
Blow OffWhen the wind removes something from its place.3
Blow OutTo extinguish or make a flame stop burning.3
Blow UpTo make something explode.6
Boil Down ToTo have determined or analyzed the solution or reason for something.1
Break DownWhen 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 InTo enter a place illegally and with the use of force.3
Break OffTo remove a part of something with force.4
Break OutTo escape from a place, situation or way of life.3
Break ThroughTo make a way through a barrier or a surface.2
Break UpTo stop a fight.4
Bring BackTo return something you’ve borrowed.4
Bring OverTo bring someone or something from one place or area to another.1
Bring UpTo bring something from a lower level/place to a higher level/place.3
Brush OffTo remove something(dust particle, insect, etc) with your hand.2
Brush UpTo practice and review your knowledge or a skill that you haven’t used in a while.2
Build In/IntoTo add a fixture or component to a certain area or place through construction.1
Bump IntoWhen you meet people by accident or unexpectedly.2
Burn DownWhen someone uses fire to destroy a structure.2
Burn OutWhen a candle stops burning because there is nothing left to burn.3
Burn UpTo destroy something with heat or fire.4
Burst OutTo suddenly do or say something.2
Butt InTo interrupt a conversation or activity.1
Call BackTo call someone again.2
Call InTo request that someone come and help.3
Call OffTo cancel an event that has been previously planned.2
Call UpTo be chosen to take part in a military mission.2
Calm DownTo become less violent, nervous, excited or angry.1
Care ForTo nurture or take care of someone or something.2
Carry AwayTo do something out of the ordinary due to strong emotions.2
Carry OnTo continue doing something or to continue on in life despite an obstacle.3
Carry OutTo move something or someone from one place to another using your arms or an object.5
Catch OnTo understand or realize something.2
Catch UpTo move faster to reach someone or something that is ahead of you.2
Cheat OnWhen you are emotionally and/or sexually unfaithful to your girlfriend/boyfriend or spouse.2
Check InTo register at a hotel or airport upon arrival.2
Check OutTo leave a hotel or other form of an accommodation after your stay there.5
Chicken OutTo refrain from doing something because of fear.1
Chop UpTo cut something into pieces with a knife.2
Clean OutTo clean or clear the inside of something thoroughly.3
Clear OutTo remove things completely from an area or place.2
Clear UpTo do something to solve a problem or a misunderstanding.3
Clog UpWhen something in a drain or valve prevents the flow of water or other liquids1
Close DownWhen the activities or services of a business permanently end.3
Close OffTo block an entrance or pathway.2
Come AboutWhen something happens or occurs.1
Come AcrossThe way other people perceive something or someone.3
Come ApartWhen something breaks or separates piece by piece.1
Come BackTo return to a place.3
Come DownTo move from a higher to a lower position or from north to south.2
Come Down ToWhen a situation is reduced to a certain outcome.1
Come Down WithWhen you start to experience the symptoms of a disease or illness.1
Come InWhen someone or something enters a place, building, or room.7
Come OffWhen something is removed or breaks off from where it was originally attached to.4
Come OnTo appear on television or be heard on the radio.5
Come OutTo leave a place.8
Come OverTo make a visit.3
Come ThroughWhen someone or something expected arrives.3
Come UpWhen something appears or happens, either expected or unexpected.6
Come Up WithWhen you think of a solution, idea, plan, or excuse.1
Con IntoTo persuade someone to do something through lies and deception.1
Con Out OfTo persuade someone to give or do something through lies and deception.1
Cool OffTo lose temperature.2
Count OnTo rely on someone for support when you need it most.2
Count UpTo count all of something or people in a group.1
Cover Up To use something to conceal something else.2
Crack DownTo take more action than usual against wrongdoing.1
Cross OffTo remove or delete someone or something from a list.1
Cut BackWhen you spend less money on something.4
Cut DownTo do less of something or to use something in smaller amounts.3
Cut OffTo 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 OutTo remove something using a knife or a pair of scissors.5
Cut UpWhen you use a knife or scissors to cut something into several pieces.2
Deal WithWhen you do everything you must do to solve a problem or complete.2
Do Away WithTo dispose of something.2
Do OverTo do something again in order to improve or correct mistakes.2
Do WithTo make a connection between two or more things.1
Do WithoutTo manage well without something or someone.1
Doze OffTo go to sleep unintentionally.1
Dress UpTo wear formal clothes, or a costume for a special occasion.1
Drop InTo visit someone unexpectedly or without making arrangements first.2
Drop OffTo gradually decline/become less.2
Drop OutTo quit a school program or training course.1
Dry OffTo dry something or a surface quickly.1
Dry OutTo remove water or other liquid from a container.3
Dry UpWhen all the liquid and/or moisture evaporates.2
Eat UpWhen someone consumes all their food.3
Empty OutTo remove everyone or everything from a space.1
End UpThe end result of something planned or unplanned.1
Fall ApartWhen something breaks all at once or piece by piece.3
Fall BehindTo move slower than others.2
Fall DownTo fall to the ground.1
Fall ForWhen you have an intense attraction to something or someone.2
Fall OffWhen something drops to a lower level.2
Fall OutTo fall from or through something.3
Fall OverWhen someone or something falls from an upright position to the ground.2
Fall ThroughIf things do not go as planned, or if a plan, deal or agreement fails.2
Feel Up ToWhen you have/don’t have the energy and confidence to do something.1
Fight BackWhen you defend yourself/resist an attack, or make an effort against an opponent in a competition.2
Figure OnTo expect or plan for something.1
Fill InTo add personal information in the blank spaces of an official document.3
Fill OutTo complete a form.2
Fill UpTo fill something completely.3
Find OutTo become aware of something or someone.1
Fix UpTo make plans or arrangements with someone or for others.4
Flip OutTo become very mad or lose control over your emotions.1
Float AroundWhen an object or a person is near, but you cannot pinpoint the exact location.2
Follow UpTo find out more about something, or take further action in regards to it.1
Fool AroundTo waste time doing unimportant or silly things.4
Freak OutWhen someone becomes irrationally upset or angry, sometimes to the point of confusion.1
Get AheadTo become successful in the professional environment or make consistent progress in life.3
Get AlongTo have good interactions with others.2
Get Around ToTo do something that needed to get done at an earlier time.1
Get AwayTo escape from something.2
Get BackTo return to a place.4
Get Back AtTo get revenge.1
Get Back ToWhen you talk to someone at a later time either because you are busy or you have obtained additional or new information.2
Get BehindTo learn, work, or progress more slowly than others.4
Get ByTo pass someone or something.3
Get DownTo move to a lower place or level.4
Get InTo arrive or enter a place, room, building, etc.5
Get OffTo leave a form of transportation, except a car.6
Get Off OnTo be excited or to truly enjoy doing something.2
Get OnWhen you move your body and either stand, sit, lie, kneel, etc. towards something (non-separable).6
Get OutTo leave or escape.6
Get Out OfTo receive a benefit and/or satisfaction from doing something.4
Get OverTo move past an obstacle to the other side.3
Get Over WithTo finish something that needs to get done.1
Get ThroughWhen a message, meaning, or idea is understood or accepted.6
Get ToTo arrive to or assist someone to a place.5
Get TogetherTo meet and spend time together.3
Get UpTo move to a higher level/position.4
Give AwayTo give something for free or without expecting anything in return.4
Give InTo surrender to something.2
Give OutTo distribute something.4
Give UpTo stop doing something without completing it.4
Go About To take the necessary steps to get something done.2
Go AfterWhen you do your best to get something no matter how difficult it is.4
Go AheadTo proceed to do something that you were hesitant about.2
Go Along Withto accept or agree with a decision, rule, opinion, etc.2
Go AroundTo follow a circular path.6
Go AwayTo move or travel from one place to another place.3
Go BackTo return to a place, time, activity, or a person.2
Go Back OnWhen you fail to fulfill a promise you made to someone.1
Go BeyondTo be more than or better than what is normal or expected.1
Go ByTo pass someone or something quickly.4
Go DownTo move to a lower position, place, price, level, etc.7
Go ForTo try to obtain.5
Go InTo enter a place, building, room, etc.3
Go In ForTo enter a place or area for a specific reason.2
Go In/IntoTo enter a place, room, building, etc. usually through a door.4
Go OffTo leave unannounced.5
Go OnWhen something takes place.3
Go OutTo leave a place or area you’re in.5
Go OverTo review something.4
Go Through WithWhen you make a decision to do something, and actually do it.1
Go UpTo move or extend to a higher level or farther North.3
Go WithTo accompany someone to a place.6
Goof AroundTo waste time doing silly or unimportant things.1
Gross OutTo be disgusted with someone or something.1
Grow Out OfTo become too big or too tall for your clothes.3
Grow UpWhen you physically change from a child to an adult.2
Hand BackWhen you return something to the person who owns it after the person has given it to you1
Hand InTo give something to a person of authority.1
Hand OutTo distribute something free to other people.1
Hand OverTo give upon request or demand.2
Hang AroundTo spend time in a place or an area.1
Hang OnWhen you hold something, often for support of comfort.3
Hang OutTo hang something, usually wet clothes, to dry.3
Hang UpTo hang clothes or an object on a hook, hanger or rod.3
Have OnTo wear clothing, cosmetics, perfume, etc.2
Head BackTo go to a place where you’ve been before or where you started from.1
Head ForWhen a situation becomes more likely.2
Head TowardTo move in the direction where someone or something is.2
Hear AboutWhen you learn details about something or someone.1
Hear OfWhen you learn about something or someone.2
Heat UpTo make something warmer or cause a rise in temperature.2
Help OutTo assist people with something.1
Hit OnTo suddenly have a solution to a problem or an interesting idea.2
Hold AgainstWhen you don’t forgive or have little respect for someone because of something they did.2
Hold OffTo delay something.2
Hold OnWhen you wait for a short time.3
Hold OutTo extend your hand or an object in front of you.3
Hold UpTo hold someone or something up in the air.4
Hook UpWhen you connect two electrical devices together.3
Hurry UpTo do something quickly.2
Keep AtTo continue doing an activity even though it may be difficult.1
Keep AwayTo avoid getting close to someone or something.2
Keep DownTo make sound, music and noise minimal.3
Keep FromTo stop yourself or other people from doing something.1
Keep OffTo avoid discussing a particular subject or topic.2
Keep OnTo continue doing something.2
Keep ToWhen you don’t share information.2
Keep UpTo continue to do something.4
Kick BackTo illegally pay extra money to someone as part of the price.2
Kick OutTo force someone to leave an organization or place.1
Knock OffTo use force to cause someone or something to fall from its place, whether intentionally or accidentally.6
Knock OutWhen someone is struck hard enough to cause them to lose consciousness.6
Knock OverTo make contact with something or someone in such a way it or they fall.1
Know AboutTo have knowledge of or be familiar with something.1
Lay DownTo place something on a surface or an object.3
Lay OffWhen a company or business ends a worker’s employment.2
Lead Up ToWhen a period of time or a series of events cause an event, situation or conversation to happen.1
Leave BehindWhen you don’t take something or someone with you when you leave.4
Leave OffTo accidentally or intentionally not include a person or thing on a list.2
Leave OutTo not include someone or something.3
Leave OverWhen you have a portion that still remains from something after you have used or eaten the rest of it.2
Let DownTo disappoint someone.2
Let InTo allow someone or something to enter a place.2
Let OffTo allow someone to leave a car, bus, train etc.3
Let OnTo tell something that is a secret or private.1
Let OutWhen you give permission for someone to leave or be released from a place.3
Let UpWhen someone or something becomes less intense or strong.1
Lie AroundTo be lazy or to not do anything.2
Lift UpTo raise someone or something to a higher level.2
Light UpTo illuminate something.2
Lighten UpWhen a conversation is changed or a person changes to become less serious.1
Line UpTo form in a row one after another or side-by-side.3
Live WithTo share the same residence.2
Lock InTo secure people or things behind a closed door.3
Lock OutWhen you don’t have the key or passcode to enter a secured place.2
Lock UpWhen you shut the windows and doors of a place or building.2
Look AroundTo 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 OnWhen you consider someone or something as unimportant or with little to no value. The opposite of yesterday’s phrasal verb.1
Look Forward ToTo anticipate a future event because it either makes you happy and/or you benefit from it.1
Look IntoTo investigate or get more facts about something.1
Look OutTo remain alert.2
Look OverTo examine or inspect something or someone.1
Look UpWhen a situation becomes better.3
Look Up ToThis particular phrasal verb is used to say you view someone with respect and/or admiration.1
Luck OutTo have exceptionally good luck.1
Make For To go in a certain direction, typically in a hurry.2
Make OfTo understand the meaning of something.1
Make UpTo invent a story.7
Mess UpWhen something is dirty or unorganized.2
Mix UpTo put or combine different things together so they’ll merge successfully.3
Monkey Around WithTo try to play with or repair a device that you have no true knowledge about.2
Move InWhen 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 OutWhen you permanently remove all your belongings and personal items from a place where you live or stay.3
Narrow DownTo reduce the number of options or possibilities.1
Pay BackWhen you return money that you owe someone.2
Pay ForTo purchase merchandise.2
Pay OffTo repay money that is owed to a person or entity.3
Pay UpTo pay all the money that is owed or asked for.1
Pick OnTo tease and/or criticize someone over a period of time.1
Pick OutWhen you are able to recognize something or someone from a group.2
Pick UpTo 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 AheadTo prepare for a future event or situation.1
Plan ForTo prepare for a big event or expectation in the future.1
Plan OnWhen you have the intention to do something.1
Plug InTo connect an electrical device to an electrical outlet.2
Plug In/IntoTo connect an electrical appliance/machine to another piece of equipment or to a power source.1
Plug UpTo block a narrow passage such as a hole, drain, or pipe so that nothing can flow through.2
Point OutTo make someone aware of something.1
Point ToWhen you aim at something or someone using your finger or hand.2
Print OutTo produce a hard copy of a computer document.1
Pull OffTo succeed in doing something difficult or tricky.2
Pull OutWhen something or someone leaves a place.7
Pull OverTo drive your vehicle to the side of the road to stop.1
Pull ThroughTo recover from an injury or illness.2
Punch InTo enter data or record time on a device.1
Punch OutTo record the time you leave the workplace using a special clock.2
Put AwayTo place something where it cannot be seen or isn’t in the way of other things.4
Put BackWhen something is causing a project to slow down.4
Put DownTo place something on a surface or an object.6
Put InWhen you invest or make a deposit. In this example, the amount almost always separates the verb.7
Put OffTo become offended by someone or something.2
Put OutTo extend a part of your body.6
Put PastTo not be surprised by a person’s actions. [Always used with the negative]1
Put ToTo cause someone or something to be in a certain state or to do something extra.2
Put TogetherTo assemble or connect the parts of something.3
Put UpTo move an object to a higher level.6
Put Up ToTo encourage or persuade someone to do something.2
Put Up WithTo tolerate or accept something that you’d rather not.1
Ring UpTo call someone on the phone.2
Rip OffWhen someone asks for a price for something that is too high, when someone cheats or steals.3
Rip UpTo tear something (i.e. paper, cloth, etc.) into pieces.2
Rule OutWhen someone or something is excluded as a possibility.1
Run AcrossTo move or run from one side to the other.2
Run AroundTo go from one place to another in a hurry.3
Run DownTo hit someone or something with a vehicle.4
Run IntoWhen something collides with another object by accident.4
Run OutWhen people exit a place very quickly. Run In/ Run Into is the opposite of this meaning.2
Run OverWhen someone is injured or killed by a vehicle.5
Run UpTo run from a lower elevation or level to a higher elevation or level.5
Screw OnTo ensure the top of a container/bottle is sealed.2
Screw Out OfTo cheat or deceive someone.1
Screw UpTo make a mistake or do something really bad.1
See AboutTo seriously think about doing something.1
Sell OutWhen all the inventory of a particular product has been purchased.2
Set UpTo organize or plan for an activity/event to happen.6
Settle DownTo begin living a stable and routine life.2
Settle ForTo accept something even though it’s not what you want or need.1
Shake UpTo mix something in a container by shaking it.3
Show OffTo overly display your skills or what you have.1
Shut OffTo stop the operation of an electrical or mechanical device.1
Shut UpTo stop talking.1
Sign InTo write your name on a list to indicate the day and time you arrived at a certain place.2
Sign OutTo write your name on a list to indicate the day and time of your departure.2
Sit DownTo change from a standing to a sitting position.2
Slow DownTo do something slower.1
Sneak In/IntoTo enter a place quietly to avoid being seen or heard.1
Sneak OutTo leave a place without being noticed.1
Sort OutTo arrange or separate things into groups according to similarities.2
Space OutWhen 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 AroundTo stand in one place or area when you should be doing something.2
Stand ForTo support or represent an idea, belief, etc.1
Stand UpTo rise from sitting or lying down to a vertical position.3
Start OffThe beginning of an event, activity or time period.4
Start OutTo begin a trip or venture to some place.3
Start UpTo start something.2
Stay OffTo avoid discussing a certain subject or topic.4
Stay OutTo spend time out of your own home.3
Stay UpTo remain in a place that is higher than ground level.2
Step OnTo place your foot on something or someone.2
Stick AroundTo stay in a place or with someone for any period of time.1
Stick OutTo extend something outward.4
Stick ToWhen something is attached to another by some form of adhesive.2
Stick UpTo use a weapon, especially a gun, to rob someone.4
Stick WithTo continue to use or do something.3
Stop OffTo make a quick stop on your way to a destination.1
Stop OverTo visit someone for a short period of time.2
Straighten OutTo make something straight.3
Stress OutTo feel very worried, nervous or anxious.1
Switch OffWhen you move something from the ‘on’ state to the ‘off’ state. Synonymous with “Turn Off.” Yesterday’s “Switch On” is the opposite.1
Switch OnWhen you move something from the ‘off’ state to the ‘on’ state. Synonymous with “Turn On,” while “Switch Off” is the opposite.1
Take ApartTo disconnect or separate the parts of an object.1
Take BackTo return something or someone.5
Take InTo be successfully tricked or deceived by someone.5
Take OutTo remove an object from an area, place or container.4
Take Out OnTo direct your anger towards someone or something when you’re really upset about someone or something else.1
Take Up OnWhen you accept an invitation or offer from someone.1
Talk Down ToTo talk to someone as if they are less intelligent than you by conveying a tone of voice or attitude that says so.1
Talk IntoTo convince someone to do something.1
Talk Out OfTo convince someone not to do something.1
Talk ToTo have a conversation with someone.1
Tear DownTo deconstruct a building or home.2
Tear OffTo remove with force.2
Tell ApartTo be able to differentiate something or someone from something or someone else.1
Tell OnTo inform an authoritative figure about what someone else did.1
Think AboutTo consider something prior to making a final decision.2
Think AheadTo think and plan carefully for a future situation or event.1
Think UpTo use your imagination to create a plan, idea, or a solution.1
Throw AwayTo dispose of something you no longer find useful in a waste bin, trash, etc.2
Throw OutWhen you get rid of something by putting it in a trash can, bin, etc.2
Throw UpTo vomit or puke.3
Track DownTo locate someone or something after a long search1
Trade InTo exchange something old for something new.2
Trick IntoTo convince or persuade someone to believe something untrue or to do something for you.1
Try OnTo see how something fits or looks before purchasing.1
Try OutTo show that you are qualified to do something.2
Turn AroundWhen someone or something moves until it faces the opposite direction.3
Turn DownTo decrease the temperature, sound, etc.2
Turn InTo give someone or something to the police or someone of authority.3
Turn IntoTo transform.1
Turn OffTo stop a device from functioning.3
Turn OnTo cause someone to feel interested and/or attracted.3
Turn OutTo attend an event, meeting, etc.4
Turn OverTo move an object so that the part that is on top becomes the bottom and vice versa.3
Turn UpTo increase the controls of an electronic or mechanical device.3
Use UpTo completely consume or use all of a supply.1
Wake UpWhen you are finished sleeping.2
Wash OffTo remove dirt or unwanted markings with soap and water.1
Wash UpTo clean your face, hands, body, etc.3
Watch OutTo be aware of someone or something.1
Wear DownTo make the surface or top of something disappear due to friction.2
Wear OffTo decrease or disappear gradually.1
Wear OutWhen something is damaged or weakened from use and age.2
Wind UpTo operate a mechanical device by turning its handle.4
Wipe OffTo completely remove or clean something from a surface or location.1
Wipe OutTo clean the inside of something.4
Wipe UpTo remove liquid from a surface using a sponge, towel or cloth, etc.1
Work InTo make time in a busy schedule for a person or an activity.2
Work OutWhen a situation, event, plan, or idea is successful.6
Work UpTo gradually improve at or make progress in something.3
Wrap UpTo cover something with some kind of special paper.4
Zip UpTo 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: