Phrasal verbs beginning with B

Here is a list of phrasal verbs beginning with the letter B.

Back down

To back down is to accept another person’s point of view instead of your own.

  • A worldwide campaign by green activists forced the company to back down.

To back down is to decide not to do something you had promised to. This is an inseparable phrasal verb.

  • He backed down on his promise to lend me 1000 dollars.
  • The management has backed down from its policy of not allowing staff to use their work computers to access their social media accounts.

Back out / back out of

To back out is to refuse to do something you had promised to do. The phrasal verb pull out has the same meaning.

  • They backed out of the deal at the last moment.
  • Now that you have signed on the dotted line, it won’t be easy for you to back out.

Back up

To back somebody up is to support them.

  • You should be able to back up your stand with solid arguments.
  • None of the eye witnesses backed him up.

To back up a computer file is to store a copy of it on your hard drive.

  • You must back up your WordPress blog regularly.

To back up a vehicle is to move the vehicle backwards.

  • As the road was closed, we had to back up a long way.
  • The traffic cop asked the driver to back up the car.

Bail out

To bail somebody out is to help them when they are in trouble.

  • Though he hails from an influential family, there was no one to bail him out when he landed himself in trouble.

Bang up

To bang somebody up is to put them in prison. The phrasal verb lock up has similar meaning.

  • All drug traffickers should be banged up.

Black out

To black out is to faint.

  • She blacked out when she heard the news.

Blow over

When a scandal or a controversy blows over, it is forgotten.

  • The actor has been advised to keep a low profile until the controversy over his remarks blows over.

Blow up

When something blows up it explodes.

  • The tyre blew up with a loud noise.

To blow up is to become angry.

  • He must have been under tremendous pressure; otherwise, I don’t think he will blow up like that.

To blow something up is to exaggerate it.

  • The minister accused the media of blowing up the scandal.

Blurt out

To blurt something out is to speak without thinking.

  • You can’t be politically correct if you blurt words out.

Boil down

To boil something down to something else is to reduce it to its essentials.

  • When you are spoilt for choice, it isn’t easy to decide which smartphone to buy, but usually it boils down to one thing – the cost.

Boss around

To boss somebody around is to treat them badly or to give orders all the time.

  • My little brother enjoys bossing me around.

Bounce back

To bounce back is to recover from something bad.

  • He was on the brink of elimination and no one expected him to bounce back, but he did.

Break down

This is an inseparable phrasal verb.

When a machine breaks down, it stops working.

  • The car broke down on the way to the airport.

When people break down, they become overwhelmed with emotion.

  • She broke down when she heard the news.

Break down (separable)

To break something down is to destroy it.

  • The thieves got into the house by breaking the back door down.

Break in (inseparable)

To break into a building is to enter it using force. To break into a computer is to steal data without the owner’s knowledge or permission.

  • Thieves broke into the house when the family was away on a vacation.
  • Hackers broke into several computers and stole sensitive data.

Break in (separable)

To break somebody in is to train them. For example, you will probably have to break a new employee in.

To break something in is to use it until it feels comfortable.

  • I bought a new pair of shoes last week. Although I have been breaking them in for two days, they still don’t feel comfortable.

Break off

To break off an agreement, an alliance or an engagement is to put an end it to because of some problem.

  • James and Mary had been seeing each other for several years, so their friends and family were shocked when they broke off their engagement.

Break out

If violence, fire, riots or epidemics break out, they begin suddenly.

  • Fire broke out in the kitchen and spread to other rooms.
  • Cholera has broken out in the village.

Break out

When a criminal breaks out of prison, they escape.

  • The two criminals who broke out of prison last week are still at large.

Break up

When a relationship or marriage breaks up it ends.

  • James has broken up his relationship with Mary.
  • The meeting broke up at six.

When you break a fight up, you stop it.

  • They called in the police to break up the fight.

Breeze through

To breeze through a test is to pass easily.

  • She is a brilliant student. She will breeze through even the most difficult test.

Bring about

To bring something about is to make it happen.

  • The bill brought about several reforms.

Bring back

If something brings back something else, it makes you think about something that happened in the past.

  • That song brought back memories of my school days.

Bring in

To bring somebody in is to ask them to come and help. The phrasal verb ‘call in’ has the same meaning.

  • I don’t think we can fix this issue on our own. We will have to bring in an expert.
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