account for

(inseparable) to explain

George’s wife was angry at him because he could not account for the lipstick on his collar.

acquaint with

(separable) to make someone aware of or familiar with someone or something

You should acquaint yourself with cultures from around the world.

act up

(intransitive) to behave poorly(human);to reoccur(disease);to malfunction(machine)

I think I’ll stand rather than sit because my hemorrhoids are acting up again

add on

(separable) to increase or enhance something by joining or uniting something to it

We’ve decided to add on another bedroom to the house.

add up

(intransitive) to result in a certain total

I’ve calculated that over and over, but it just doesn’t add up.

add up to

(inseparable) to result in a certain total

The money I lost in the slot machines added up to over three hundred dollars.

ask for

(inseparable) to deserve a negative consequence

George is asking for trouble.

ask in

(separable) to request someone to come in

At the end of the date, I asked Mary in.

ask out

(separable) to request someone to go on a date with you

I asked Mary out again. She refused.


back away

(intransitive) to retreat backwards

The crowd backed away as the terrorist blew himself up.

back down

(intransitive) to concede in a disagreement

The mugger backed down when he saw that Max was carrying a 9mm handgun.

back up

(separable) to go in reverse

When Steve passed the beautiful girl hitchhiking on the freeway, he immediately stopped the car, backed up, and offered her a ride.

back up

(separable) to help or support

I will back my friends up no matter what they do.

back up

(separable) to make copies of computer files just in case something happens to the original files

Please be sure to back up your files before you go home each day.

bail out

(intransitive) to jump out of an airplane (usually when it?s going to crash)

Luckily the pilot bailed out before his plane hit the side of the mountain.

bail out

(intransitive) to quit or stop doing something (usually when experiencing difficulties)

The congressional candidate bailed out of the race because there was no hope that he could raise enough money to win.

bail out

(separable) to rescue someone from a difficult situation

Max’s uncle bailed him out of the financial problems he was having.

ball up

(separable) to roll or form something into a round shape

When max does his laundry, instead of folding everything nicely when it’s done, he just balls everything up and throws it in a bag.

bash in

(separable) to damage something by hitting it violently

Vandals bashed in the windows of my new Lamborghini.

beat up

(separable) to hurt someone by hitting and/or kicking them repeatedly

The bully beat the other kids up for their lunch money.

black out

(intransitive) to lose consciousness momentarily

Max had a very severe headache and blacked out several times, so his doctor admitted him to the hospital.

blend in

(intransitive) to match or look the same as the surroundings

In Max’s neighborhood, if you don’t blend in, you’ll get beat up.

blow off

(separable) to remove with powerful force

The bomb blew the roof off the house.

blow up

(separable) to inflate

Al’s job was to sell the balloons. Jim’s job was to blow them up.

blow up

(separable) to explode or to destroy something with an explosion

Mary was arrested for blowing up Max’s car with a homemade bomb.

blow up

(intransitive) to suddenly become angry

The teacher blew up when she discovered that the students hadn’t done their homework.

bone up on

(inseparable) to review, study, or practice a subject for a short period of time

I need to bone up on my math as I have a university entrance exam at the end of the month.

boss around

(separable) to tell someone what to do repeatedly

Mary likes to boss people around.

break down

(intransitive) to lose control of one’s emotions

Max broke down in tears when he heard that Mary had been arrested.

break down

(intransitive) to stop functioning

John had to learn to become a good mechanic as his car was always breaking down.

break in

(intransitive) to forcibly enter a building

Max called the police when he thought he heard someone breaking in.

break in

(separable) to work or repeatedly use something so that it becomes comfortable or easily usable

Max’s shoes hurt him as he had not yet broke them in.

break into

(inseparable) to forcibly enter

Mary broke into the car to steal the stereo.

break out

(intransitive) to suddenly develop or erupt

A riot broke out in Los Angeles today.

break up

(separable) to cause to disperse or scatter

What time did the cops break the party up last night?

break up (with)

(separable) to end a relationship

Have Tom and Mary broken up yet? I’m thinking about asking Mary out on a date. The Beatles broke up a long time ago. Some people say that Yoko broke the band up. I’m going to break up with Mary. she bores me.

bring about

(inseparable) to make happen

Max’s new girlfriend brought about some positive changes in his behavior.

bring around

(separable) to persuade, to cause to some on to do something through persuasion

Mary’s passionate speech brought Max around to donating to her organization.

bring around

(separable) to guide someone or convey something

I will bring the new intern around the office when she gets here.

bring down

(separable) to cause to fall

Michael Moore is hoping to bring the Bush administration down.

bring forth

(separable) to produce or give rise to

The eager new intern brought forth many new ideas on how to run the company.

bring in

(separable) to earn money

Jill hates her new job, but she’s bringing in a lot of money.

bring in

(separable) to reach a verdict

The judge declared a mistrial because the jury could not bring in a verdict.

bring in

(separable) to arrest someone; to bring someone to the police station (usually for questioning)

The police brought Max in for robbing the bank.

bring on

(separable) to cause to appear

Bring on the birthday cake!

bring up

(separable) to mention

When talking to Mary, Max never brings up her criminal record.

bring up

(separable) to raise or rear

Mowgli was a boy brought up by wolves.

brush up on

(intransitive) to practice; to improve your skill or knowledge

Max went back to school to brush up on mathematics.

burn down

(separable) to destroy by fire

Please don’t smoke in bed for you may burn the house down.

butt in

(intransitive) to enter a conversation uninvited

«Excuse me for butting in, but I couldn’t help overhearing…»


call off

(separable) to cancel

Mary decided to call off her wedding with max.

call up

(separable) to telephone

Mary called the priest up to tell him the wedding was off.

calm down

(separable) to stop being emotionally distressed

Max was so upset that nothing could calm him down.

carry on

(intransitive) to continue

Max was not sure if he could carry on any longer.

catch on

(intransitive) to become popular

Max is hoping that being short, fat, and bald will catch on.

check in

(separable) to register(usually at a hotel, airport, or hospital)

The terrorist sweated nervously as he checked his baggage in.

cheer on

(separable) to support or encourage with shouts of praise

The crowd at the marathon cheered the runners on.

cheer up

(intransitive) to become happier or less miserable

Max cheered up at the end of the night.

cheer up

(separable) to make someone become happier or less miserable

We tried very hard to cheer Mary up, but nothing we did worked.

chicken out

(intransitive) not to do something because of fear

Max wanted to ask Mary out on a date, but he chickened out.

clean up

(separable) to clean completely

When living with others it is important to clean up after yourself.

color in

(separable) to fill with color (usually an outline)

Max happily colored in the pictures in his textbook.

come about

(intransitive) to happen

How did that come about?

come across

(inseparable) to find by chance

As Max was cleaning up his room he came across Mary’s phone number.

come along

(intransitive) to progress

Things are coming along well at work these days.

come along

(intransitive) to accompany someone who takes the lead

Ralph asked me to come along on the trip, but I decided not to.

come along

(intransitive) to appear

Max was quite happy until Mary came along.

come around

(intransitive) to change one?s opinion or position

After our long debate, Max finally came around to my point of view.

come back

(intransitive) to return to a place one has been before; to return to a previous activity

Max left our office, but quickly came back after discovering he had left his keys here.

come back

(intransitive) to be restored

I was sick and weak, but now I feel better and my strength is coming back.

come back

(intransitive) to recall

I think I remember that story. It’s all coming back to me now.

come back

(intransitive) to even the score (sports)

France came back to beat England after being down 1-0 all game.

come back

(intransitive) to reply, retort

When Max criticized Mary, Mary came back with some very sharp criticism of Max.

come by

(intransitive) to visit informally

I was in the neighborhood so I thought I would come by to see how you were doing.

come by

(inseparable) to obtain (accidentally)

I’m not sure how I came by this hat, but I’ve had it for years.

come down

(intransitive) to descend, fall, go down

It?s been hot all day. Finally the temperature is starting to come down a bit.

come down

(intransitive) to precipitate, fall from clouds

Snow has been coming down for about 2 hours now.

come down

(intransitive) to reduce to the essential element

In politics everything really just comes down to the economy.

come down

(intransitive) to become sick

Max came down with the flu.

come down

(intransitive) to criticize

Max came down on Mary for not washing the dishes after dinner.

come in

(intransitive) to arrive, get in

News came in that next year’s car models have just come in.

come in

(intransitive) to place in a race or contest

Frank came in second in the Boston Marathon.

come in

(intransitive) to be received (signal)

No matter how much Max adjusted the antenna, the radio station just didn’t come in very well.

come into

(inseparable) to acquire

Mary came into a lot of money when her grandfather passed away.

come off

(intransitive) to appear

George doesn’t come off as being very intelligent.

come off

(intransitive) to fare, happen in a particular manner

The meeting came off as well as could be expected.

come off

(inseparable) to have recently completed or recovered from

After coming off a nasty hip injury, Andre went on to win the US Open.

come on

(inseparable) to advance progressively

Our soccer game ended as darkness came on.

come on

(intransitive) to project a particular personal image

Mary comes on as a very serious person, but is actually quite fun.

come on

(intransitive) to start running, become available

I wish the electricity would come on again. It’s dark in here

come out

(intransitive) to become known, to come into public view, to debut

The news of the candidates past sexual misconduct came out just before the election.

come out

(intransitive) to turn out, result

Everything came out fine in the end

come out

(intransitive) to declare one?s position publicly

The senator came out against gay marriage.

come out

(intransitive) to reveal that oneself as homosexual

After years of trying to act straight, Max finally came out.

come over

(intransitive) to change sides

Mary has finally come over to our way of seeing things.

come over

(intransitive) to visit casually

Max and Mary are coming over to watch football tonight.

come through

(intransitive) to do what is expected or required

I really needed to get tickets to the show and Max, my buddy, came through for me and got me a pair.

come through

(intransitive) to be communicated

Mary’s displeasure with Max really came through when she hit him upside the head.

come up

(intransitive) to be mentioned

In Max’s conversation with Mary, the topic of their wedding never came up.

come up

(intransitive) to approach, draw near

Mary came up and introduced herself.

come up with

(inseparable) think of

Max came up with a brilliant idea.

come upon

(inseparable) to meet or discover by accident

Max came upon a twenty dollar bill while walking down the street.

copy down

(separable) to record in writing

Max told Mary about the idea. She copied it down and sold it to the highest bidder.

crank up

(separable) to increase the power or volume

Every time that song comes on the radio, I crank it up.

cross out

(separable) to draw a line through something

I didn?t have an eraser, so I had to cross out my mistakes instead.

cut down

(inseparable) to reduce

Max decided to cut down his alcohol consumption.


die down

(intransitive) to decrease

The noise from the party finally died down around four in the morning.

dig up

(separable) to look for and find hidden things or information

Mary was paid thousands of dollars to dig up some dirt on that promising politician.

dish out

(separable) to allocate, dispense, or distribute food from a container

After dinner, Max dished out some delicious fruit salad for desert.

doze off

(intransitive) to fall asleep

You know you’re a boring speaker when your entire audience dozes off.

drag on

(intransitive) to continue for what seems to be an extrememly long time

The politicians speech dragged on and on.

draw up

(separable) to prepare

Lee Harvey was happy to have the Soviets draw up the assassination plans.

dream up

(separable) to think of (something new)

The CIA and the KGB were always dreaming up new ways of keeping tabs on each other.

dress up

(separable) to put on formal or very nice clothing

Mary likes to dress her son up to go to church.

drink up

(separable) to finish a drink

Bobby drank his juice up and went to bed.

drop off

(separable) to unload or deliver (on the way to somewhere else)

If you’re going to the store, could you drop me off at Mary’s house on the way?

drop off

(intransitive) to decline (in number)

Towards the end of the school year university enrollment numbers drop off a little.

drown out

(separable) to make a sound inaudible with a louder sound

Max uses his iPod to drown out all of the people’s voices around him.


eat out

(intransitive) to go out to a restaurant to eat

Max was tired of eating out, so he stayed home and had a TV dinner.

eat up

(separable) to finish a meal

You must eat up all of your vegetables before you can have cake.

empty out

(separable) to remove everything from a container making it empty

Max emptied the refrigerator out.

empty out

(intransitive) to be vacated by people

The concert hall emptied out as soon as the concert was over.

end up

(intransitive) to arrive at a destination or result which may be unplanned or unexpected

Max drank so much last night that he ended up in a strange bed in a strange apartment.

even out

(separable) to make something measure the same as something else

Max has trouble evening out his sideburns since one ear is lower than the other.


fall apart

(intransitive) to come apart, disintegrate

My new Ford fell apart soon after I got it.

fall apart

(intransitive) to suffer an emotional breakdown

Mary fell apart soon after the divorce.

fall down

(intransitive) to fall to the ground or floor

Mary fell down and hurt her left knee.

fall for

(inseparable) to be deceived or to suddenly become attracted to someone or something

Mary fell for the trick that Max played on her.

fight off

(separable) to keep something or someone away

Bill had trouble fighting all of the young ladies off.

fill in

(separable) to complete where needed

Please fill in the blanks.

fill up

(separable) to fill completely

You can borrow my car, but please fill up the tank before you return it.

find out

(separable) to learn or discover

Mary was mad when she found out that she was adopted.

fit in

(intransitive) to get along with others in a group

Bill decided to go into politics when he discovered he didn’t fit in anywhere else.

free up

(separable) to make something available (it was previously unavailable)

Getting fired from my job freed up my schedule quite a bit. Now I can go to the beach anytime I want.


get about

(intransitive) to go from place to place

Mary gets about quite well without a car.

get across

(separable) to communicate clearly or convincingly

No matter how hard I tried I couldn’t get the message across to her that I cared.

get across

(intransitive) to be convincing or clear

Max has trouble getting across to members of the opposite sex.

get ahead

(intransitive) to make progress in becoming successful

Max compliments his boss constantly in order to het ahead.

get along

(intransitive) to advance (especially in years)

George is really getting along in years. Is he going to retire soon?

get along

(intransitive) have a congenial relationship with someone

Jane and John get along quite well, but Mary and Max can’t even stand to be in the same room.

get along

(intransitive) to manage or fare reasonably

Max is able to get along each day on just 2 slices of bread and a glass of water.

get around

(inseparable) to evade, circumvent

George hired many lawyers to help him find ways to get around various laws.

get around

(intransitive) to go from place to place

Since my car broke down, I’ve been getting around by bicycle.

get around

(intransitive) to become known, circulate

Word got around that Mary was pregnant.

get at

(inseparable) to access or reach

Could you please scratch my back? I have this itch that I just can’t quite get at.

get at

(intransitive) to hint, suggest, convey, or try to make understandable

I think I know what you are getting at, but I’m not certain.

get away

(intransitive) to escape

Max had a dream that a very fat woman was attacking him and he couldn’t get away.

get back

(intransitive) to return

Max got back late from the soccer match.

get back

(separable) to have something returned

When Mary called her engagement with Max off, Max tried to get the ring back.

get by

(intransitive) to succeed with minimum effort and minimum achievement

Since George was a student, he has made a habit of just getting by.

get by

(intransitive) to survive or manage

We were able to get by on just a few dollars per week.

get by

(inseparable) to proceed unnoticed, ignored, or without being criticized, or punished

The tainted meat got by the inspectors.

get down

(intransitive) to descend or lower

Max got down on his knees and prayed.

get down

(intransitive) give one?s consideration or attention (used with to)

Now that we?ve finished lunch, I am ready to get down to business.

get down

(separable) to depress, exhaust or discourage

Talking about politics really gets me down.

get down

(separable) to put in writing

Did you get everything I said down?

get in

(intransitive) to arrive

When did you get in from Paris?

get into

(inseparable) to be involved with

If you get into the wrong crowd, you are likely to get into a lot of trouble.

get off

(separable) to give great pleasure

Burning ants gets Max off.

get off

(inseparable) to dismount

Max got off his bicycle to tie his shoe

get off

(intransitive) to receive a lesser punishment than what might be expected

Mary got off with only two years in prison for the attempted murder of Max.

get off

(intransitive) to receive extreme pleasure

Max gets off on burning ants with his magnifying glass.

get out

(intransitive) to become known

The news about Mary got out very quickly.

get out

(intransitive) to escape or leave

Sam wouldn’t stop talking so we asked him to get out.

get out

(separable) cause to escape or leave

Please get that cat out of here.

get over

(inseparable) to overcome, recover from

Max finally got over the flu.

get through

(inseparable) to finish something completely; to arrive at the end of something

It took me almost two weeks to get through that book.

get to

(inseparable) to annoy

That buzzing sound really gets to me.

get to

(inseparable) to arrive at, to progress to

I can’t wait to get to school.

get together

(intransitive) to meet

Let’s get together tomorrow night.

get up

(intransitive) to rise to one?s feet or arise from bed; to climb

Mary gets up at sunrise to go jogging every morning.

get up

(separable) to cause to rise

Mary got Max up early this morning so that he could make her breakfast.

give back

(separable) to return something

Mary did not want to give Max the wedding ring back.

give out

(inseparable) to distribute

Mary is very happy that they give needles out at the local clinic.

give up

(separable) to stop, quit, or abandon

Max gave up smoking ten years ago.

go along

(intransitive) to cooperate

To go along with the crowd is the easiest thing, but not always the wisest thing.

go around

(intransitive) to satisfy a demand or need

While there are certainly more jobs now, there are still not enough to go around.

go around

(intransitive) to circulate

There are some rumors about Mary going around.

go away

(intransitive) to leave

Max and Mary went away for the summer.

go by

(intransitive) to pass; elapse

As the years go by, I grow older but not wiser.

go by

(inseparable) to act in accordance

If you go by the rules, you shouldn’t have any trouble.

go down

(intransitive) to go under; to drop below the horizon; to sink

I hope to get to the beach before the sun goes down.

go down

(intransitive) to ingest

Water goes down especially well after a long hard soccer match.

go off

(intransitive) to explode; detonate

Bombs went off all around the city.

go off

(intransitive) to happen in a particular manner

Mary’s dinner party last night went off very well.

go over

(intransitive) to gain approval

How did your request for a pay raise go over with your boss?

go over

(inseparable) to check; examine

The mechanic went over the engine to see if there were any problems.

go through

(inseparable) to experience; endure

Mary and Max went through a lot to make their business a success.

go under

(intransitive) to fail; to be defeated

Jack and Jill’s drinking water business went under almost right away.

grow up

(intransitive) to change from child to adult

Mary thinks that Max will never grow up.


hand in

(separable) to turn in or give work you have done

Max was embarrassed about handing in his homework late.

hand out

(separable) to distribute

Lee Harvey often handed out leaflets on the street corner.

hang around

(intransitive) to spend time

Max likes to hang around with his friends at the local bar.

hang up

(separable) to place something on something (usually a hook or hanger) so that it doesn’t touch the ground; to terminate a phone call

Max gets irritated with Mary for not hanging up her clothes after she does the laundry.

hike up

(separable) to pull up or raise (usually clothing)

When he crossed the flooded street, Max hiked up his pants, so they wouldn’t get wet.

hike up

(separable) to suddenly raise in amount

Every summer oil companies hike up gas prices. Once Boxmart has destroyed all of its competition in a certain area, they hike up their prices.

hold back

(separable) to restrain

When I saw Max’s new haircut, I had a hard time holding back my laughter.

hold down

(separable) to keep a job

Mary has never been able to hold down a job.

hold on

(intransitive) to wait

Hold on a moment. I need to tie my shoe.

hold up

(separable) to rob using a gun or weapon

Max held up a bank to get some money to buy Mary a ring.

hold up

(separable) to delay or obstruct

The traffic jam held us up for three hours.

hunt down

(separable) to pursue to find or capture someone or something

Max hunted the waitress down, so that he could order dinner.

hurry up

(intransitive) to do faster

Hurry up. We are running late.

hush up

(intransitive) to become quiet

After the teacher screamed at the top of her lungs, the children hushed up.

hush up

(separable) to make someone become quiet

The teacher hushed up the kids.


idle away

Waste time doing nothing much.

«He idles away hours every day watching television.»

iron out

Resolve by discussion; eliminate differences.

The meeting tomorrow will be an opportunity to iron out difficulties.

impose on/upon

Ask too much of someone.

Is it alright if I stay? I don’t want to impose upon your hospitabity.

improve on/upon

Make better.

The runner trained regularly to improve on his previous performance.

indulge in

Allow yourself to enjoy something.

I’ve been dieting all week but today I’m going to indulge in a dessert.

insure against

Guarantee compensation for damage, injury, etc.

The passengers on the boat are all fully insured.

invite out

Ask someone to join you for lunch, dinner, etc.

Harry invited her out for dinner.


jot down

(separable) to copy down or make a note of

Max jotted down a few notes as the professor spoke.

jump in

(intransitive) to join an activity while it’s in progress; to interrupt

I was telling the story to Mary, but Max kept jumping in.


keep away

(separable) to not allow to come near

Max was so popular with the girls that he couldn’t keep them away.

keep down

(separable) to control; subdue; repress

You can have a party, but please keep the noise down as much as possible.

keep off

(inseparable) to not walk on

Please keep off the grass.

keep off

(inseparable) to not consume

Scott is having a difficult time keeping of drugs.

keep on

(intransitive) to continue

No matter how many times you fail, you must keep on trying.

keep up

(separable) to maintain in good condition; to persist; persevere in

Excellent work! Keep it up.

keep up

(separable) to prevent from going to sleep

The neighbor’s barking dog kept me up all night.

keep up

(intransitive) to stay informed

Max reads the newspaper in order to keep up with current events.

keep up

(intransitive) maintain a required pace or level in competition (often in lifestyle)

Max spent all of his money and time trying to keep up with his neighbors.

kick out

(separable) to force to leave

The bouncers kicked Max out of the bar for starting a fight.

kneel down

(intransitive) to go down on your knees

Before he goes to bed, Max kneels down to pray.

knock out

(intransitive) to make someone unconscious

That last drink I had really knocked me out.

lay off

(separable) to dismiss from a job

General Motors usually lays workers off just before Christmas so that the CEO can get a large bonus.

leave out

(separable) to not include

A margarita is not a margarita if you leave the tequila out.

let down

(separable) to disappoint

The team let the coach down.

lie down

(intransitive) to recline

I like to lie down in my hammock and read.

lift up

(separable) to elevate something

Max could not lift Mary up because she was too heavy.

line up

(intransitive) to stand in a line

The prisoners had to line up before they could enter the dining hall.

line up

(separable) to put in a row

Max likes to line up his dominos and then knock them down.

lock in

(separable) to lock the door so that someone can’t leave

Mary was afraid that Max might flee, so she locked him in.

lock out

(separable) to lock the door so that someone can’t enter

Jane locked Jack out of the bathroom because she wanted some privacy.

look down on

(inseparable) to consider inferior

The rich lady looked down on the poor homeless people in the park.

look into

(inseparable) to investigate

The grand jury is looking into the allegations that bribes influenced the mayor’s actions.

look out

(intransitive) to be careful; watchful; to protect someone’s interests

Most politicians just look out for themselves and their wealthy constituents. They have little regard for the average person.

look over

(separable) to inspect or examine (swiftly)

I looked over the contract this morning and everything seems fine.

look up

(separable) to find information in a book, or booklike source

Mary decided to look up her ex-boyfriend’s phone number

lop off

(separable) to cut something off (a limb or branch of a tree)

The carpenter accidentally lopped off two of his fingers when he was cutting some wood.


make up

(separable) to invent (a story)

Bill is good at making up stories to get himself out of trouble.

mark down

(separable) to write or make a note on something

Max marked the phone number down so that he wouldn’t forget it.

mark down

(separable) to reduce prices

K-mart often marks its prices down.

measure up

(intransitive) to reach a standard or expectation

Mary would not marry Max because she felt that he just didn’t measure up.

mess up

(separable) to make disorganized or messy

Please do not mess up the house. We are having guests over tonight.

move on

(intransitive) to progress onwards

Let’s move on. I’m tired of talking about that.


nod off

(intransitive) to fall asleep (usually not intending to)

Mary NODDED OFF in English class.

naff off

Get lost, go away (used as imperative)

He was making a fuss, so I told him to NAFF OFF.

nag at

Repeatedly criticize someone verbally

My boss is always NAGGING AT me about my arriving a few minutes late for work.

nail down

1. Succeed in getting, achieve

They are having trouble NAILING DOWN the contract.

2. Understand fully

I can not NAIL DOWN what is wrong with their idea, but I am sure it would not work.

3. Get full information from someone

I can not NAIL them DOWN about when they are going to finish the project.

4. Succeed or achieve something

I NAILED the job DOWN in the first interview.

name after

Give someone a name to remember another person

I was NAMED AFTER my uncle who died in the war.

nip off

Go somewhere quickly

I’m NIPPING OFF to get some milk.

nip out

Go somewhere quickly

She’ll be back in a minute- she’s just NIPPED OUT to the shops.

nose about

Look for something hidden or secret

The police are NOSING ABOUT to see if they can find anything against the gang.

nose around

Look around for evidence

The boss keeps NOSING AROUND our office when we are out at lunch.

note down

Write something short like a phone number for future reference.

She NOTED DOWN my fax number so that she could send me the documents when she got to the office.

nut out

Find an answer to a problem

The management and unions had a meeting to NUT things OUT.


ooze out

(insep) (gas, smoke, blood, tears) appear or leak; flow slowly

Blood was oozing out from the wound.

open out

(insep) spread; become wider; unfold

Open out the discussion so that students can contribute to the discussion using personal experience.

open up

1) [open something up] open something

Police! Open up!

2) (insep) talk about your feelings or what you really think

One challenge when it comes to dating a guy is getting him to open up.

opt in

(insep) choose to join something.

Customers can opt in to the programme at a level that suits them.

opt out

(insep) choose to leave a system or operate independently.

The contract allowed him to opt out after two years

order about/around

[order someone about/ around] give someone too many orders in an unpleasant way

What really gets me is the way he thinks he can order me about.

order in

1 [order someone in] order someone to enter a place.

The army was ordered in to disperse the demonstrators.

2 (insep) order food to eat at home

Let’s order in tonight.

order off

[order someone off] order a player to leave the field

Players who are not properly attired will be ordered off the field by the referee.

order out

[order someone out] order someone to leave.

One of the defense lawyers was ordered out of the court for disrupting trial sessions.

own up

(insep) admit a fault or having done something wrong

In the old days, if the guilty student didn’t own up, all the class was punished.


pass out

(separable) to distribute

The teacher passed the assignment out.

pass out

(intransitive) to lose consciousness

Mary was so tired that she passed out as soon as she got home.

pay back

(separable) to give money back that you borrowed

Max is avoiding Mary because he doesn’t have the money to pay her back.

pay back

(separable) to reciprocate a bad deed

Al paid George back by punching him in the nose.

pay off

(separable) to pay all of the money you owe

Some day I hope to pay off my student loans.

perk up

(intransitive) to become more cheerful or lively

The movie perked up a little at the end, but overall it was quite dull.

perk up

(separable) to cause to be more cheerful or lively

Tom brought some flowers to Mary in the hospital. He was hoping to perk her up with them. Unfortunately, she is allergic to flowers.

pick out

(separable) to choose

When shopping for watermelon, I like to pick out the biggest.

play down

(separable) to make something seem less important

Max played down his car accident so that his mother wouldn’t get worried.

print out

(separable) to print something from a computer

I need to buy some more paper for my printer so that I can print out my report for history class.

pull down

(separable) to pull something so that it comes down

When Max drinks too much, he sometimes pulls his pants down in public.

put across

(separable) to communicate; convey effectively

During the meeting, management put across the message that our concerns were insignificant.

put away

(separable) to discard; renounce

Let?s put away our worries, and live for the moment.

put away

(separable) to consume

I watched Max put away several hamburgers in just a few minutes.

put away

(separable) to confine; incarcerate; imprison

The government put Sherman away for a year for having the wrong information on his website.

put back

(separable) to place something where it was previously

When you finish the milk, please don’t put the empty container back in the fridge.

put down

(separable) to kill a sick or injured animal (usually out of mercy)

The vet said it was necessary to put down the race horse because of its broken leg.

put down

(separable) to insult or make disparaging remarks about someone

I feel sorry for Max. Everytime he and Mary get together with their friends Mary puts him down in front of everybody.

put off

(separable) to postpone

Many students put off doing their homework until it is almost too late.

put on

(separable) to dress oneself with; to wear; to don

Mary put her best dress on

put on

(separable) to produce; perform

The theater group put on a great show.

put on

(separable) to fool; mislead for amusement

You?re putting me on!

put out

(separable) to extinguish

The firefighters put the fire out.

put out

(separable) to publish; issue

The government put out a news brief to misinform the public.

put out

(separable) to exert, extend

The workers put out considerable effort to get the job done on time.

put out

(separable) to expel

Please put the cat out.

put through

(separable) to implement; bring to a successful conclusion

The committee was unable to put through any reforms on campaign financing.

put through

(separable) to make a telephone connection for

Operator, put me through to the president!

put up

(separable) to raise; erect; build

The construction workers put the buildings up in just a few days.

put up

(separable) to accommodate; provide food a shelter to

The government put the refugees up in temporary housing.

put up with

(inseparable) to tolerate

Max has great difficulty putting up with noisy children.


queue up

stand in line, form a line (intransitive)

The pupils queued up before class.

quiet down

be quiet, cause to be quiet (separable, transitive)

Breastfeeding quieted the baby down instantly.

quit on

stop working for (inseparable transitive)

My babysitter quit on me last night.


rack up

(separable) to accumulate in number (score)

You’d better watch where you park. You’re really racking up the parking tickets.

rip off

(separable) to steal something

Max ripped twenty dollars off from that old lady.

rip up

(separable) to tear something into pieces

The teacher ripped Max’s test up because he caught Max cheating.

run away

(intransitive) to escape from one’s guardians

Mary ran away at the age of thirteen.

run into

(inseparable) to meet unexpectedly

I was surprised when I ran into Bill on the way to the store yesterday.

run over

(separable) to hit with a vehicle

Bill ran over a cat on his way to work.

rush in

(intransitive) to enter quickly

The students rushed in because they were eager to learn.

rush out

(intransitive) to exit quickly

The workers all rushed out because it was time to go home.


save up

(separable) to collect money for future use

Max is saving up for a brand new car.

screw up

(separable) to make a mistake or do something wrong

Max screwed up his relationship with Mary.

sell out

(separable) to sell everything in the store

We can’t go to the concert. The tickets have been sold out

sell out

(separable) to compromise one’s values for personal gain

Catherine sold out. I guess power and money mean more to her than what she said were her personal values.

send back

(separable) to return something

I sent the soup back to the kitchen because there was a fly in it.

set up

(separable) to start, organize, or configure

Max asked Mary to set up his computer.

settle down

(separable) to get someone to become calm

Settle John down. The neighbors are trying to sleep.

settle down

(intransitive) to become calm; to start living a quiet family life

Max started to look for a wife because he thought it was time to settle down.

shave off

(separable) to remove hair by shaving

Michael Jordan first shaved off all of his hair when he was in his twenties.

shoot down

(separable) to make something hit the ground by shooting it

yugoslavia shot down one US warplane.

shout out

(separable) to speak very loudly; to announce

Max shouted the directions to his house out.

show off

(separable) to try to impress by doing or showing

When Bill did that trick with the cigar, he was just showing off.

shrug off

(separable) to dismiss something as unimportant

The president shrugged off his extremely low poll numbers.

simmer down

(intransitive) to become less angry

Bill allowed his wife to simmer down before he asked for forgiveness.

sit around

(intransitive) to just sit not doing much

I don’t do much work besides sitting around because to do anything more would be a violation of union rules.

sort out

(separable) to arrange or separate by type, class, category, etc.

Max sorted his socks out.

sort out

(separable) to resolve problems or difficulties

Max tried to sort out the misunderstanding he had with Mary.

speak up

(intransitive) to speak more loudly

Speak up. I can’t hear you.

split up

(separable) to divide

The bank robbers split the money up equally.

stand in for

(inseparable) to take someone’s place

Mary stood in for her boss while he was away.

stand out

(intransitive) to be prominent or conspicuous

Max’s car stands out among all of the cars in the parking lot because of its florescent green paintjob.

stand up

(intransitive) to rise to an erect position

All of the people in the courtroom stood up when the judge entered.

stay in

(intransitive) to not go out

Bill decided to stay in this weekend because he was tired of going out.

stay out

(intransitive) to not return home past the regular time

Bill got angry when his wife stayed out all night.

stop by

(inseparable) to stop for a brief visit (usually on the way to somewhere else)

Max stopped by Mary’s house on his way home from school.


take apart

(separable) to dismantle or disassemble

Max took the engine of his car apart, but couldn’t put it back together.

take back

(separable) to retrieve something you gave or said

I take it back. Mark isn’t nearly as dumb as I said.

take back

(separable) to return

Max took the defective radio back to the sore where he bought it.

take down

(separable) to lower

Max took his pants down so that the nurse could give him an injection.

take down

(separable) to dismantle; disassemble; take apart

Max took down his tent and went home.

take down

(separable) to lower one’s self-esteem

Mary’s constant criticism has taken Max down considerably.

take in

(separable) to reduce in size; make smaller

Max lost a lot of weight and had to have all of his pants taken in.

take in

(separable) to give shelter to; to receive as a guest, or lodger

The Smiths took Barney in while he was in town.

take in

(separable) to see for enjoyment

We took in the sights in the morning and took in a movie later in the evening.

take off

(separable) to remove from something

I’m going to take my jacket off. It’s hot in here. Take you hand off my knee. I’m not that kind of girl.

take off

(intransitive) to depart (aircraft)

When the plane takes off, you must have your seatbelt on and your seat must be in its upright position.

take on

(separable) undertake; assume; acquire

Max took on a lot of new responsibilities.

take on

(separable) to contend against an opponent

I think I can take on Mike Tyson.

take out

(separable) to extract; remove

Max takes out the trash every night.

take out

(separable) to take someone on a date

Max took Mary out to a fancy restaurant.

take over

(separable) to gain control of

Someday I will take over the world.

take up

(separable) to pursue; turn one’s interest to

Max decided to take up golfing.

take up

(separable) to consume or fill time or space

Homework takes up all of my time.

talk into

(separable) to persuade to do something

Max talked Mary into going to Mexico with him.

talk out of

(separable) to persuade not to do something

Bill talked his wife out of divorcing him.

tangle up

(separable) to twist and mix together into a confused mass

Max accidentally tangled the electrical cords up.

tear off

(separable) to remove something by tearing

Chastain made headlines when she tore off her jersey after scoring the winning goal.

thaw out

(intransitive) to change from a frozen state to a non-frozen state

The ice-covered lakes thaw out in the springtime.

thaw out

(separable) to cause something to change from a frozen state to a non-frozen state by warming it

The warm sun thawed out the icy sidewalk.

think over

(separable) to give something a lot of thought

Before you make a big decision, you should think it over.

throw away

(separable) to discard as trash

Lee threw away the parking ticket soon after he received it.

throw out

(separable) to discard

Mary threw out all of her old clothes.

throw up

(separable) to vomit

Mary ate so many cookies that she threw up.

tip off

(separable) to inform

Max tipped off the police about the imminent terrorist attack.

trade in

(separable) to exchange something (usually used) for payment or partial payment for something else.

Max traded his old jalopy in as a down payment on a new BMW.

try on

(separable) to put clothes on to see if it fits

Be sure to try athletic shoes on before you buy them.

try out

(separable) to test to see if something is suitable

I’m going to try out some new recipes for dinner this week.

turn away

(separable) to reject; refuse; dismiss

The church turned away the people with no money to pay.

turn away

(separable) to repel; deflect

His sheer arrogance turned away many potential friends.

turn away

(intransitive) to move so that you are not facing someone

When Max entered the room, Mary turned away. She could not face him after what he had done.

turn back

(intransitive) to return; revert; backtrack

We started on our trip, but the weather was so bad that we decided to turn back.

turn back

(separable) to drive away; to halt the advance of

The soldiers tried with all of their might to turn back the invading forces.

turn down

(separable) to reject

Bill asked 100 girls to go out on a date with him. All but one turned him down.

turn down

(separable) to decrease

Please turn the radio down. It’s too loud.

turn in

(separable) to submit or give work done for someone

Max turns in his homework almost always on time.

turn off

(separable) to switch a machine or electrical device to the off position

Please turn off the lights when you leave the room.

turn off

(separable) to disgust

Selfish people really turn me off.

turn on

(separable) to switch on; to cause to operate or flow

Max was bored so he turned the TV on.

turn on

(separable) to excite pleasurably

Mathematics turns me on.

turn out

(separable) to switch off

Please turn out the lights.

turn over

(separable) to invert; rotate

Once the pancake is done on one side, please turn it over to cook the other side.

turn up

(separable) to increase

Please turn the radio up. I can hardly hear it.


use up

(separable) to use all of

Mary got mad at Max for USING UP the toothpaste.

urge on

1) Encourage

The crowd URGED the players ON.

2) Persuade or pressure to accept something

They URGED the deal ON the company.

urge upon

Persuade or pressure to accept something

They URGED the contract UPON us.

usher in

1) Be at, mark or celebrate an important point in time

We always give a party USHER IN the NEW YEAR.

2) Make important changes happen

Her appointment as CEO USHERED IN a whole new phase in the company’s growth.


vamp up

improve, make more exciting, make better (separable transitive)

The woman vamped her wardrobe for work up.

veer away from

avoid (inseparable transitive)

I veer away from processed foods.

veer off

switch directions (intransitive)

The racer veered off to the left.

veg out

relax, spend time doing nothing (intransitive)

She vegged out in front of the television all weekend.

vote down

deny, decline (separable transitive)

The committee voted my proposal down.

vote in

elect (separable transitive)

The group voted her in.

vote on

decide, make a decisionin (separable transitive)

The teachers voted on the prom theme.

vote out

remove (usually from a position) (separable transitive)

The coup voted the former leader out.


walk out

(intransitive) to leave as a sign of protest

The workers walked out to protest the low wages.

warm up

(separable) To cause something to rise in temperature to a suitable level

Max warmed the leftovers up in the microwave oven.

warm up

(intransitive) to rise in temperature to a suitable level

My office warms up nicely on sunny afternoons.

water down

(separable) to make weaker

Don’t go to that bar. The bartender waters down all of the drinks.

wear down

(separable) to cause to be worn or weak

Your constant nagging is wearing me down.

wear off

(separable) to no longer affect someone

Oh no, call the doctor. the drugs are wearing off.

wipe off

(separable) to clean a surface by dragging a towel or sponge across it

After dinner, please wipe off the table and wash the dishes.

write down

(separable) to record in writing

In that class, you should write down everything that the professor says. It’s likely to be on the test.


yank at 

If you yank at something, you pull it repeatedly.

yearn for

to want something very much

yell out

to shout loudly


zero in on

If you zero in on something, you focus on it or put your attention on it.

zip around

If you zip around, you move quickly from place to place.

zip up

to do up a zipper in a piece of clothing or in a bag

zone out 

If someone zones out, they look blankly ahead without paying attention, maybe because they’re tired or bored or affected by drugs.

zonked out 

If you’re zonked out, you’re very tired and you feel like resting or going to sleep.

zoom in

If a photographer or a camera zooms in, the image changes so that it looks as if the camera is moving closer to the object being photographed or filmed.