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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.

Alphabetical lists of commonly-used phrasal verbs in English.

 Alphabetical List - B 


  • 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 out of
    • Drive out of a place in reverse gear.
      "She backed the car out of the garage."

  • back into
    • Drive into a space in reverse gear.
      "He backed his car into a parking space."

  • back up
    • Give support or encouragement
      "If I tell the boss we've got too much work, will you back me up? "

    • Make a copy of (file, document, program...)
      "It is recommended to back up all files for safety."

  • bail out
    • Pay money to secure someone's release from jail.
      "When he was arrested his family refused to bail him out."

    • Rescue from financial difficulties.
      "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
    • Explode.
      "The terrorists said the bomb would blow up at 9 o'clock."

    • Be destroyed by an explosion.
      "The car blew up but luckily there was nobody in it."

  • bog down
    • Get caught up in something and be unable to make progress.
      "Try not to get bogged down with/in unimportant details."

  • boil down to
    • Be reduced to the main reason or the essential part.
      "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
    • Go out of order; stop functioning.
      "John's car broke down on the way to the airport."

    • Lose control of one's emotions.
      "The parents broke down when they heard the news."

  • break something down
    • Divide into 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.
      "I saw a man outside the shop trying to break in.
      "The burglars broke into the house around midnight."

  • break in on
    • Interrupt unexpectedly.
      "An operator  suddenly broke in on our telephone conversation."

  • break off
    • Stop, disdiscontinue.
      "It has been decided to break off diplomatic relations with that country."

    • Stop speaking.
      "She broke off in the middle of a sentence."

  • break out
    • Start suddenly or erupt.
      "Rioting broke out as a result of the strike."
      "He was in such a nervous state that sweat started to break out on his forehead."

  • break out of
    • Escape from captivity by force.
      "Three prisoners broke out of the central prison last night."

  • break through
    • Force a way through something.
      "The car broke through the barrier set up by the police."

  • break up
    • Come to an end (marriage, a relationship ...).
      "After her marriage broke up, Caroline went to live in London."

    • Separate into small pieces.
      "Pablo 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 it off!"

  • bring up
    • Raise (a child).
      "She stopped working for a few years in order to bring up her children."

    • Mention something.
      "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.
      "Rafael bumped into his English teacher at the supermarket."

  • burn out
    • Stop (something) working.
      "These electric bulbs seem to burn out more quickly than the old ones."
      "The lawn mower has broken down. I think the motor has burnt out."

    • Become exhausted from too much work or stress.
      "Tom will burn himself out if he doesn't slow down and stop working such long hours.."

  • butt in (on)
    • Interrupt impolitely.
      "It's rude to butt in on a conversation."

More Phrasal Verbs: 

A B C D E-F G H I-J-K L M-N O-P-Q R-S T U-Z



Please note that British English spelling is used on this website.