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English Phrasal Verbs


A phrasal verb is a verb followed by a preposition or an adverb;
the combination creates a meaning different from the original verb.
Below you will find a list of phrasal verbs in alphabetical order
with their meaning and an example of use.


Phrasal verbs - Alphabetical List - B

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Phrasal Verb

Meaning

Example

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 cinema.
back off Retreat, abandon an intention. The thugs backed off when they saw the police.
back out Withdraw from an agreement. We made a deal. You can't back out now!
back up 1) Give support or encouragement

2) make a copy of (file, program...)
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.
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.
band together Unite in a group. Consumers banded together to protest against the measures.
bank on Base your hopes on something/someone. Don't forget the date. I'm banking on your help.
bargain for Expect; be prepared for. The interview was more difficult than he had bargained for.
bear out Confirm The other witnesses will bear out my testimony.
bear with Be patient. Please bear with me please while I finish my explanation.
beef up Improve or make more substantial He beefed up his presentation with diagrams and statistics.
black out Faint; lose consciousness When he fell off the horse, he blacked out.
block off Separate using a barrier. The area was blocked off during the demonstration.
blow up 1) Explode.

2) Be destroyed by an explosion.
1) The terrorists said the bomb would blow
  up at 9 o'clock.
2) The car blew up but luckily there was
  nobody in it.
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. The horses were enclosed in a paddock but
a few of them managed to break away.
break away from Leave and become independent He broke away from the organisation and
set up his own agency.
break down 1) Go out of order,  stop functioning.

2) Lose control of one's emotions.
1) John's car broke down on the way to the
 airport.
2) The parents broke down when they
 heard the bad news.
break (sth) down Divide in smaller or simpler parts. The lesson will be easier to learn if you break it down into small sections.
break free Detach from a physical hold. He broke free from his attacker's grasp.
break in/into Enter by force in order to steal something. 1)  I saw a man outside trying to break in.
2) The burglars broke into the house
 around midnight.
break in on Interrupt unexpectedly An operator suddenly broke in on our telephone conversation.
break off 1) Stop, discontinue

2) Stop speaking
1) It was decided to break off diplomatic
  relations with that country.
2) She broke off in the middle of a
 sentence.
break out Start suddenly and spread quickly 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 through Force a way through something The car broke through the barrier.
break up Come to an end (marriage, relationship...) After her marriage broke up, Emma went to live in London.
break up Separate into small pieces. Jack had to use a fork to break up the soil.
break with Discontinue something or
do something in a different way.
He broke with tradition and invented new methods.
bring about Cause something to happen The arrival of electricity in rural areas brought about a huge change.
bring off Succeed in doing something difficult You pretended to be a journalist and he believed you?
I never thought you'd bring that off!
bring up 1) Raise (a child).

2) Mention something.
1) She stopped working in order to bring up
    her children.
2) His friends knew he had lost his job but
    they decided not to bring up the subject.
brush up on Improve, refresh one's knowledge of something. Mary decided to brush up on her Spanish before going to South-America.
bump into Meet by accident or unexpectedly. Pedro bumped into his English teacher at the supermarket.
burn out 1) Stop (something) working

2) Become exhausted from overworking
1) The fuse has burnt out.
2) Tom will burn himself out if he doesn't
     slow down.
butt in (on) Interrupt impolitely. It's rude to butt in on a conversation.
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  Phrasal verb lists :
A B C D E-F G H I-J-K L M-N O-P-Q R-S T U-Z