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Phrasal Verb

Meaning

Example Sentence

accede to

To agree to do something

She would not accede to parental pressure to get married.

account for

To provide explanation for.

Increasing disappearance of icebergs in the Arctic is accounted for by global warming.

agree to

To consent.

She agreed to meet me only after I’ve apologized to her.

agree with

To think the same.

I don’t like you but I agree entirely with what you have said.

amount to

To be the same as.

His decision amounts to an outright refusal.

answer back

To react rudely.

He was told off for answering her back.

answer for

To be responsible for something wrong that one did.

David will have to answer for his impoliteness.

attribute to

To say something is caused by someone or something else.

He attributed his success to his wife’s constant encouragement.

back away

To move away; to withdraw.

He backed away when challenged to a fight.

back down

To withdraw from a commitment.

The government backed down over the issue after widespread protests.

back off

To retreat.

They told him to back off after he put too much pressure on them.

back out

To withdraw from doing something or before it is completed.

We were shocked when he backed out of the project at the last minute.

back up

To confirm what someone says is true.

The witnesses backed up his account of the incident.

blow away

To kill by shooting with a gun.

They threatened to blow the hostages away if the soldiers attempted a rescue mission.  

blow out

To burst.

One of our tyres/tire blew out while we were on our way to catch a train.

blow over

To become weaker.

We waited until the storm blew over before continuing our journey.

blow up

To explode; to destroy by explosion of a bomb.

A suicide bomber blew up a van carrying soldiers.

boil away

To heat until liquid disappears.

I overslept and the water boiled away leaving the kettle intensely hot.

boil down to

To be the main reason or equivalent of.

What his endless arguments boil down to is that he wants others to believe him.

boil over

To lose control of one’s temper.

The discussion boiled over into a shouting match.

break away

To move from or ahead of a group.

The leading runner broke away from the pack on the final lap.

break down

To fail owing to some reason.

After ten years, their marriage broke down irretrievably leading to a divorce.

break in

To enter a building forcibly or illegally.

He was arrested for trying to break in through the window of a house.  

break into

To forcibly enter a building to steal.

They broke into a research laboratory and removed all the animals.

break off

To give up [a habit]. 

She found it hard to break herself off biting nails.

To discontinue a relationship.

Jack broke off with Jill after only three months.

break out

To escape from a place such as a prison.

A plan by some prisoners to break out of the prison was foiled by the prison guards.

break through

To force oneself through an obstruction.

The mod managed to break through the police cordon.

break up

To disperse a crowd.

The police used tear gas to break up the protest demonstration.

To come to an end.

The house-warming party broke up around midnight.

bring about

To cause something to happen.

Global warming will bring about changes in man’s attitude towards the environment.

bring around/round

To make someone regain consciousness.

They were trying to bring him around by giving him mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

bring back

To reuse something.

More and more people are advocating that the death penalty be brought back.

bring down

To cause to collapse.

Corruption and bribery scandals had brought down the government.

bring forth

To produce.

A quarrel about money that brought forth tragic deaths.

bring forward

To make something happen earlier.

The matches have been brought forward to avoid the bad weather.

bring in

To invite someone for a purpose.

The police had to be brought in to settle a seemingly private dispute.

bring on/upon

To make something happen.

There are people who bring misfortune upon themselves.

bring out

To make a good quality noticeable.

Disasters bring out the best in human nature when many volunteer in rescue operations.

bring together

To make people come into close association.

What brought them together is their common interests.

bring up

To care and educate a child.

The divorcee brought up her six children single-handedly.

brush aside

To be unwilling to consider something.

He brushed their suggestions aside, saying they are not practical.

brush off

To refuse to give one’s attention to something.

The film star brushed off a rumour of his impending divorce.

brush up

To resume practicing a skill.

I must brush up on my driving before I get a car.

burn away

To be destroyed by fire.

Fire burnt away the building leaving only the pillars standing.

burn down

To be destroyed by fire.

By the time the firemen arrived, the fire had burnt the houses down.

burn out

To stop burning as there’s nothing left to burn.

The fire was too huge to be extinguished and had to be left to burn itself out.

burn up

To be destroyed completely by fire.

The forest fire burnt up vast tracts of woodland.

buy into

To believe wholeheartedly in something.

That’s your personal belief; I’m not buying into it.

buy off

To bribe.

The accused man’s father tried to buy the judge off but was arrested.

buy out

To purchase stock, etc in order to gain complete control of a company, etc.

He bought out some shareholders and now he has a controlling interest in the business.

buy up

To purchase all that is available of something.

The dealer bought up a huge quantity of a scarce commodity in anticipation of its price increase.