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List of English Phrasal Verbs beginning with B

Phrasal verbs starting with: ABCD

B

Choose a phrasal verb and click on it to go directly to the explanation and example.

Back away, Back down, Back off, Back out, Back up

Be away, Be back, Be in, Be out, Be over, Be up

Beg off

Blow up

Blurt out

Boil down to

Bone up on

Boss around

Bounce back

Brass off

Break down, Break in, Break up, Break out

Brighten up

Bring about, Bring backBring off, Bring in, Bring out, Bring up

Brush up on

Build up

Burn down, Burn up

Butt in

Butter up

Buzz off

Back away (no object)

MEANING: step or move back slowly
When he took a snake out of his pocket everyone backed away and stood watching it from a safe distance.

EXAMPLE:

Back down (no object)

MEANING: not follow a threat.

EXAMPLE:

“John was going to call the police when I told him I’d wrecked his car, but he backed down when I said I’d pay for the damages.”

Back off (no object)

MEANING: not follow a threat.

EXAMPLE:

“Tom was ready to call the police when I told him I’d wrecked his car, but he backed off when I said I’d pay for the damages.”

Back out (no object)

MEANING: withdraw, discontinue or refuse to provide previously promised help or support:

EXAMPLE:

He agreed to help but backed out when he found how difficult it was.

Back up (1. no object)

MEANING: move backward

EXAMPLE:

“The people waiting in line are too close to the door. We won’t be able to open it unless they back up.”

Back up (2. separable)

MEANING: drive a vehicle backwards (in reverse).

EXAMPLE:

“You’re too close! Back your car up so I can open the garage door.”

Back up (3. separable)

MEANING: confirm a story, support facts, or information.

EXAMPLE:

“If you don’t believe me, talk to Dave. He’ll back me up.”

Back up (4. separable)

MEANING: make a “protection” copy to use if there are problems with the original.

EXAMPLE:

“When my computer crashed, I lost many of my files. It’s a good thing I backed them up.”

Be away (no object)

MEANING: to be away from home/from this place for at least a night.

EXAMPLE:

“Dad is away at the moment but is coming back on Friday.”

Be back (no object)

MEANING: to have returned after a long or short absence

EXAMPLE:

“It’s great to be back again after all those years.”

Be in (no object)

MEANING: be at home/in this building.

EXAMPLE:

“There was no one in when I went by earlier.”

Be out (1. no object)

MEANING: be away from home/from this building for a short time but not overnight

EXAMPLE:

“Everyone must have been out when I went by earlier.”

Be out (2. no object)

MEANING: When something is out, it’s available to the public

EXAMPLE:

“They tried to keep it secret but the story is out now.”

Be over (no object)

MEANING: be finished

EXAMPLE:

“The storm is over now; we can go out now.”

Be up (no object)

MEANING: be out of bed

EXAMPLE:

Don’t expect her to answer the door bell at eight o’clock on Sunday morning. She won’t be up.

Beg off (no object)

MEANING: to decline an invitation; ask to be excused from doing something.

EXAMPLE:

“At first Lily said she would be at the party. Later she begged off.”

Blow up (1. separable)

MEANING: to inflate.

EXAMPLE:

“We need lots of balloons for the party. Will you blow them up?”

Blow up (2. separable)

MEANING: to explode; destroy by exploding.

EXAMPLE:

A: “That old building really came down quickly!”
B: “That’s because the construction company used dynamite to blow it up.”

Blow up (3. no object)

MEANING: suddenly become very angry.

EXAMPLE:

“When I told Jerry that I’d had an accident with his car, he blew up.”

Blurt out (object)

MEANING: suddenly say something without thinking

EXAMPLE:

“Don’t blurt out your answers without thinking.”

Boil down to (inseparable)

MEANING: When a situation, question or issue boils down to something else, this is the most important thing. Something is so, because of something else.

EXAMPLE:

“A lot of his mistakes boil down to his lack of education.”

Bone up on (inseparable)

MEANING: review / study thoroughly for a short time.

EXAMPLE:

“If you’re going to travel to Peru, you’d better bone up on your Spanish.”

Boss around (object)

MEANING: treat somebody unpleasantly, giving unnecessary orders all the time.

EXAMPLE:

The new manager made a big mistake when he started bossing the staff around.

Bounce back (inseparable)

MEANING: recover from something unpleasant.

EXAMPLE:

The company went bankrupt, but managed to bounce back with new management.

Brass off (no object)

MEANING: to be angry, upset or fed up

EXAMPLE:

I’m really brassed off because I didn’t get paid in full.

Break down (1. separable)

MEANING: to separate something into component parts.

EXAMPLE:

“We spent a lot of money at the supermarket. When we broke the total cost down, we spent more on cleaning supplies than food.”

Break down (2. no object)

MEANING: 1. stop working / functioning. 2. for people – to start crying

EXAMPLE:

“She will be late for work today. Her car broke down on the freeway.”
“She broke down when she heard the bad news.”

Break in (1. often no object; with an object, break into–inseparable)

MEANING: enter by using force (and breaking a lock, window, etc.)

EXAMPLE:

“Jane’s apartment was burglarized last night. Someone broke in while Jane was at the movies.” / “Somebody broke into Jane’s apartment while she was at the movies.

Break in (2. separable)

MEANING: wear something new until it’s / they’re comfortable.

EXAMPLE:

“These are nice shoes, but they’re too stiff. I hope it doesn’t take too long to break them in.”

Break in (3. separable)

MEANING: train; get someone / something accustomed to a new routine.

EXAMPLE:

“I hope I can learn my new job quickly. The manager hasn’t scheduled much time for breaking me in.”

Break up (1. no object)

MEANING: disperse; scatter.

EXAMPLE:

“What time did the party break up last night?”

Break up (2. usually no object; with an object, break up with (inseparable))

MEANING: end a personal relationship.

EXAMPLE:

“Tim and Julie aren’t going steady any more. They got really angry with each other and broke up.”
“Have you heard the news? Julie broke up with Tim!”
“I’m sorry to hear that their marriage broke up. I’m sure the divorce will be difficult for the children.”

Break out (1.inseperable)

MEANING: to escape

EXAMPLE:

“The two criminals broke out of prison yesterday.”

Break out (2.inseperable)

MEANING: Riots, violence, row, fire, epidemic, war, rash, spots, sweat or tears suddenly or violently start

EXAMPLE:

“Riots broke out after the government increased taxes again.”

Brighten up (inseperable)
MEANING: To get brighter, to give someone or something a boost.

EXAMPLE:

1. “The new paint on the walls really brightens up the room”
2.“Meeting my friend on the street has really brightened up my day.”

Bring about (object)

MEANING: to make something happen

EXAMPLE:

“The new law brought about a slight decrease in petty crime”
“The new lifestyle brought about a huge change in her personality”

Bring back (1. separable)

MEANING: return something.

EXAMPLE:

“Yes, you can borrow my pen, don’t forget to bring it back to me when you’re finished.”

Bring back (2. separable)

MEANING: think about something that happened a long time ago, to bring back memories.

EXAMPLE:

“Looking at the photos brought back a lot of memories of the place.”

Bring off (separable)

MEANING: accomplish something difficult; accomplish something people had considered impossible or unlikely.

EXAMPLE:

“No one thought Chuck could get an A in that course, but he brought it off.”

Bring in (object)

MEANING: to introduce a bill, law, regulation, rule, system or scheme

EXAMPLE:

“The government are bringing in a new tax bill.”

Bring out (object)

MEANING: to make it available to the public.

EXAMPLE:

“John Grisham is bringing out a new novel.”
“Madonna has just brought out a great new album.”

Bring up (1. separable)

MEANING: mention (as a topic of discussion).

EXAMPLE:

“We planned to discuss overtime pay in the meeting. Why didn’t someone bring that topic up?”

Bring up (2. separable)

MEANING: to raise; rear.

EXAMPLE:

“Lucy’s parents died when she was a baby. Her grandparents brought her up.”

Brush up on (inseparable)

MEANING: review / study thoroughly for a short time.

EXAMPLE:

“If you’re going to travel to Peru, you’d better brush up on your Spanish.”

Build up (object)

MEANING: increase the amount of muscles, strength, stamina, reputation, sales, speed, collection, profits.

EXAMPLE:

“Over the years the company built up a reputation for technological innovation”
“You need to build up your confidence.”

Burn down (no object)

MEANING: become destroyed / consumed by fire.
Note: For upright things–trees, buildings, etc.–only.

EXAMPLE:

“Lightning struck Mr. Kennedy’s barn last night. It burned down before the fire fighters arrived.”

Burn up (1. no object)

MEANING: become destroyed / consumed by fire.
Note: For people and non-upright things only.

EXAMPLE:

“All of Mr. Kennedy’s hay burned up when his barn burned down.”

Burn up (2. separable)

MEANING: cause someone to become very angry.

EXAMPLE:

“Did you hear how rudely Fred talked to me? That really burned me up!”

Butt in (no object)

MEANING: impolitely interrupt (a conversation, an action).

EXAMPLE:

“Hey you! Don’t butt in! Wait for your own turn!”

Butter up (separable)

MEANING: praise someone excessively with the hope of getting some benefit.

EXAMPLE:

“I guess Marty really wants to be promoted. He’s been buttering his boss up all week.”

Buzz off (inseparable, informal)

MEANING: go away

EXAMPLE:

“Buzz off! You are annoying me.”