Home > Phrasal Verb Dictionary: Letter B

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Back down.- (insep) When you back down, you accept another person's point of view or argument instead of your own or you decide not to do something after all. Climb down, give in

  • Yesterday, he backed down on his campaign pledge to cut carbon dioxide emissions, one of the major causes of global warming.
  • The company only backed down after a worldwide campaign by activists.
  • British Airways has backed down from its policy of not allowing staff to wear jewellry.

Back out [Back out, Back out of something].- (insep) Withdraw (agreement, deal, arrangement, contract) When you back out or back out of something, you avoid doing something when you have promised to do it. Pull out

  • He backed out at the last moment.
  • The company is thought to have become suspicious and backed out of the deal.
  • You can't back out of the deal now -you signed your name on the contract.

Back up [Back somebody/something up].- 1 When you back somebody up, you support them.

  • Four witnesses backed him up.
  • Make sure that you have some examples to back up your arguments.

2 When you back up a computer file, you make a copy as a precaution.

  • For more information about how to back up your data, see Help and Support Center.
  • Back up your files, so that you can restore them if a virus damages them.

Back up [Back up, back something up].- When you back up or back a vehicle up, you move backwards in a vehicle.

  • We had to back up a long way and try a different route.
  • I backed the car up several hundred yards.

Bail out [Bail somebody out].- 1 When you bail somebody out, you pay a deposit so that somebody who has been arrested can be released.

  • He called his father to bail him out knowing that he had quite a bit of influence in the city.

2 Help somebody who is in trouble.

  • He drew on his family name and family connections to help bail him out of failed ventures in the oil industry.
  • Faced with bankruptcy, he turned to a shadowy Mafia-controlled finance company to bail him out.
  • He does what he wants and ignores the consequences, usually because his parents are there to bail him out.

Bang up [Bang somebody up].- When somebody is banged up, they are put in prison. Lock up

  • He was banged up for drug dealing.
  • He has been banged up for a decade now, but becomes eligible for parole this year.

Be back.- (insep) When you are back, you have returned. Come back

  • What time will you be back?
  • I'll be back in a minute.

Be off.- 1 (insep) When you are off, you leave a place. Go away

  • I'm just off to see the solicitor. I should be back around lunchtime.
  • She's caught the travel bug now - she's off to Barbados this year.
  • Where's she off to then?

2 (insep) When something is off, it's disconnected or it's not working.

  • The power was off for about 3 hours.

3 (insep) When an event is off, it has been cancelled.

  • Due to the many last minute cancellations tonight's party is off.
  • He said no one had told them officially that the concert was off.

4 (insep) (milk, fish) When food or drink goes off, it's not good to eat any more. Go off

  • I think this milk is off.

Be out.- 1 (insep) When something is out, it's available to the public; appear. Come out

  • When is the new magazine out?
  • They tried to keep it secret but the story is out now.

2 (insep) Not to be at home or work.

  • The manager is out at the moment.

Black out.- (insep) Faint When you black out, you lose consciousness. Pass out Come round, come to Bring round, bring to

  • I blacked out and when I woke up I was in hospital.

Blow out [Blow out, blow something out].- (insep) (match, candle, flame, lamp) When something blows out or you blow it out, it's extinguished. Put something out

  • I blew out the candles and we ate cake.

Blow over.- (insep) (scandal, problem, troubles, issue, controversy, affair, row, argument) When something blows over, it's forgotten.

  • The politician is keeping a low profile until the scandal blows over.

Blow up [Blow up, blow something up].- 1 When something blows up, it explodes.

  • Terrorists intended to blow up the parliament when the president was speaking there, but police foiled the plans.

2 (insep) When you blow up, you become angry.

  • I've been under a lot of pressure lately. I didn't mean to blow up like that.
  • I don't understand. It's not like her to blow up over a silly little row like that.

3 (incident, affair) When you blow something up, you exaggerate it.

4 (tyre, dinghy, balloon, airbed) When you blow something up, you fill it with air. Pump something up

  • More volunteers are needed to blow up balloons and distribute posters and
    balloons to all the houses early in the morning before the event.

Blurt out [Blurt something out].- (news, answer, secret) When you blurt something out, you say it without thinking.

  • Don't blurt out answers without thinking.
  • Every parent, at least once, has had the little darling blurt out something that was said in private that was never intended for others to hear.

Boil down [Boil down to something].- (insep) (situation, question, issue) When something boils down to something else, this is the most important thing.

  • A lot of this boils down to lack of education.

Boss around [Boss somebody around].- When you boss somebody around, you treat them unpleasantly, giving unnecessary order all the time.

  • The new manager made a big mistake when he started bossing the staff about.
  • Stop bossing me around, will you?

Bounce back.- When you bounce back, you recover from something unpleasant.

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

Brass off.- When you are brassed off, you are angry, upset or fed up.

  • I'm brassed off.

Very common & useful phrasal verb Break down.- 1 (insep) (car, system, machine, talks, negotiations, marriage, argument, plan) When something breaks down, it stops working because it has a serious problem. Pack up, conk out

  • The elevators in this building are always breaking down.
  • Sorry I'm late. The car broke down on the way here.

2 When a person breaks down, they lose control and start crying. Crack up

  • When he told her he didn't love her anymore, she broke down.

Break down [Break something down].- Destroy (door, wall, barrier, resistance, opposition, reserve) When you break something down, you destroy it.

  • The police got into the house by breaking the door down.

Break in [Break in, break into something].- (insep) (building, house, grounds, computer, system) When you break in or break into a place or system, you enter it using force or by breaking the law. Break out

  • An unemployed programmer from Britain has been accused of breaking into a large number of US military computers.

Break in [Break somebody in].- (employee, recruit) When you break somebody in, you help them get used to a new situation or job or you train them.

  • I'll bring my wife with me, but this is all new to her so I'll have to break her in gently.

Break in [Break something in].- (boots, shoes, car, horse) When you break something in, you use it until it's comfortable, it works properly or does what it's supposed to do.

  • I've been breaking the boots in since yesterday, and except for some lower shin pressure, they haven't bothered me at all.

Break off [Break something off].- (agreement, engagement, relations, relationship, alliance) When you break something off, you put an end to it because of a problem.

  • I was extremely stunned when Mac and Brumby broke off their engagement.

Break out.- 1 (insep) (riots, violence, row, fire, epidemic, disease, war, rash, spots, sweat, tears, argument) When something breaks out, it begins suddenly or violently.

  • The two criminals broke out of prison yesterday.

2 (insep) When you break out, you escape. Break in

  • The two criminals broke out of prison yesterday.

Break up [Break something up].- (fight,quarrel, party, crowd, marriage, relationship, couple, alliance, school, meeting) When you break something up or something breaks up, it stops.

  • Three policemen were needed to break up the fight.
  • The meeting broke up around 10 o'clock.

Breeze through [Breeze through something].- (insep) (exam, test) When you breeze through something, you pass easily. Sail through, sweep through, walk through

  • In the dream, I was in a classroom, taking some sort of test, and I just breezed through it, like it was nothing.

Bring about [Bring something about].- Cause (reform, changes) When you bring something about, you make something happen.

  • This bill, together with that concerning private pensions, will bring about the reform of the pension system in Romania.

Bring back [Bring something back].- (memories) When something brings something else back, it makes you think about something that happened a long time ago.

  • Looking at the photos brought back a lot of memories of my visit to the place.

Bring in [Bring somebody in].- (doctor, expert, consultant, technician) When you bring somebody in, you ask them to come and help. Call in

Bring in [Bring something in].- (bill, law, regulation, rule, system, scheme) When an organization brings something in, they introduce it.

  • I suggest that you initiate a campaign to bring in a law to stop car manufacturers advertising speed as one of the main attributes of new models.

Bring off [Bring something off].- Accomplish When you bring something off, you succeed in something. Pull off

Bring out [Bring something out].- (product) When a company or organization brings something out, they make it available to the public.

  • He's bringing out a new novel.
  • Madonna has just brought out a new record.

Bring round, bring to [Bring somebody round, bring somebody to].- When you bring somebody round, you help them regain consciousness.

Bring up [Bring somebody up].- When you bring somebody up, you look after a child until it has grown up.

  • It isn't easy to bring up children nowadays.
  • My parents brought me up to be polite.

Bring up [Bring something up].- (issue, matter, point, subject) When you bring something up, you mention a subject or topic. Come up, drag up

  • I feel these programmes bring up issues they're too young to deal with.

Brush up [Brush something up, brush up on something].- (English, French, subject) When you brush something up or you brush up on something, you study it to try and revise or improve it a little. Polish up

  • I'm looking for a short course to brush up my English before I go on holiday.

Build up [Build something up].- (muscles, strength, stamina, reputation, sales, speed, collection, profits) When you build something up, you increase the ammount of something.

  • Over the years the company built up a reputation for technological innovation.
  • A little practice will soon build up your confidence.
  • It is important to have a daily exercise routine to build up your muscles, weakened by a long period of illness.

Bump into [Bump into somebody].- (insep) When you bump into somebody, you meet them by chance. Come across somebody, run into somebody

  • I bumped into her one evening, and she invited me down to her place near the
    river.

Butt in [Butt in, butt in on somebody].- When you butt in or butt in on somebody, you interrupt them. Break in on

  • I am sorry to butt in on your conversation, but I have specific information from my own experiences on this subject.

Butter up [Butter somebody up].- When you butter somebody up, you praise them excessively so that they will do what you want.

  • Even if he was just buttering her up, the compliment thrilled her.

Buzz off.- (insep, infml) When you buzz off, you go away. Dash off

  • The reverend had to buzz off for an afternoon service, but returned about three-thirty.

 

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