14 PHRASAL VERBS with meanings you can’t guess!


Hi, everybody.

Welcome to engVid.

I'm Adam.

In today's lesson, I want to give you a few more phrasal verbs, because I know they're

very popular with students.

Everybody wants to learn about phrasal verbs, and again, what are phrasal verbs?

They're a combination of a verb and a preposition, and the problem that a lot of people have

is understanding what these things mean, because in many cases, when you combine the two words,

the verb and the preposition, you have a very completely...

You have a completely different meaning than the two words themselves.

Now, this is especially true with the phrasal verbs I'm going to show you today.


These ones, you probably can't even guess the secondary meanings.

Some of the literal meanings, like taking the words as they are, they might make sense,

but then the secondary meanings, you really can't understand just by looking at the word.

So, somebody needs to tell you, so that's what I'm going to do today.

So, for example, let's look at the first one.

Size up.

What does it mean to size up a person or a situation, or to size someone up?

Now, a lot of people think of size up, maybe, you know, you go to a hamburger restaurant

and they ask you if you want to size up, so you go from a medium french fries to a large,

from a medium drink to a large drink, sure, that's what it means.

But to size someone up means to measure the person.

Not physically, you're not measuring height or width or weight, what you're measuring

is the person's ability, or the person's confidence, or the person's value to you in some way.


So, when you...

For example, when you go to a job interview, yes, the interviewer is asking you questions

that they have and they ask everybody, but what they're really doing is they're sizing

you up, they're trying to see what kind of person you are, whether you will be good for

the company, whether you will get along with your co-workers, whether you're competent,

so all these things they're measuring about you by not so much the words you say, but

how you say them.

Are you using your hands?

Are you confident?

Are you slouching because you're a little bit nervous, right?

So, all these things help them measure you.

And you can do this for a person, you can do this for a situation.

So, for example, I want...

I have a big company, I want to buy a smaller company, but before I do that, I want to go

there and just size up the company, make sure it's worth my investment.


So that is "size up".

So, again, by itself, very hard to guess the meaning of this word.

So, let's look at "dish out".

So, again, if you go to a diner and you order a meal, when the meal's ready, the cook will

click the bell, ding, and it'll say "dish out", means the waitress or the waiter can

come pick it up and take it to the customer.

But "to dish out" also means to basically...

It's like "give", but it's "give" in a very aggressive way.

When you dish something out, you're a little bit insulting or attacking someone in most

cases, or you're making fun of.


So, you're dishing out the insults, you're dishing out the jokes.

Means you're spreading them, you're giving them very quickly, very aggressively.


Now, there's another common expression, "if you can't take it, don't dish it out".

So, if you don't like people making fun of you, don't make fun of other people.


That's what that means.

If you can't take it, don't dish it out.

Dish it out, give it one way.

Rat out.

A rat, of course, you know, is like a big mouse.

It's very similar to a mouse, but different.

To rat someone out or to rat out someone or a company or a government agency, whatever

the case may be, means to expose.

So, if somebody does something bad and you know about it, you can rat them out.

You can tell the police or you can tell your boss or you can tell somebody that this person

did something.

And when you do that, this person is exposed.

It's not a secret anymore.

He or she can't hide.

So, you rat them out, like taking the rat out of the hole and showing the world that

the rat exists, I guess.

And that's why it's usually about something bad.

When we think of rat, rats have a very negative image, so when you rat someone out, you're

showing the world that this person did something bad.

Dig in.

Now, of course, you can dig with a shovel, you can dig into the ground, which is very


When you...

Another meaning of "dig in" means help yourself, like do or take or consume.

So, for example, with food, everybody sits around the table and then the host or hostess

says, "Okay, everybody, dig in", means eat.

Just go for it.

Take it and eat it as much as you want.

When you dig in, you consume or you take in very aggressively, again, there's that word

"aggressive", but with a lot of energy, with a lot of pleasure, I guess you could say,

especially with food.

Dig in, eat as much as you want, go for it.

Now, "fill out".

I think a lot of people think, "Oh yeah, I know this one.

You fill out an application or you fill out a questionnaire."

Very simple.

But "fill out" can also refer to a person's body.

So, for example, when I was young, I was very, very, very skinny.

Very skinny.

People thought I was anorexic sometimes.

But then, one year, I suddenly, boop, I filled out.

All my skinniness filled out and I had a kind of a normal-looking body finally, right?

So when I...

I remember I was away from home for almost a year, and when I came home, none of my friends

or family recognized me because I gained 30 pounds in less than a year.

But I didn't look fat, I looked actually normal.

I was just too skinny before I filled out finally.

It was very satisfying.

To "water down".

And again, remember, all of these, all the first words are all verbs, so even if the

thing doesn't look like a verb, remember that it is.

"Water", you think of as a noun.

"Water down" means maybe the water level is down, that's fine.

But "to water something down" or "to water down a text or something" means to make it

much simpler, okay?

That's why sometimes we say "to dumb down".

But some people don't like to use the word "dumb", so you can use "water down".

To make something simpler or to make something weaker.

So, for example, if you have a bottle of alcohol and you add water to it, what you're doing

is you're watering down the alcohol, you're making it weaker.

And you can use this for a lot of situations where you can basically add something or make

something simpler and makes it weaker and maybe easier to digest, okay?

"Farm out".

Now, this is a pretty common phrasal verb in the last decade or so, or even two decades.

To "farm out" means to outsource.

Now, if you're not sure what "outsource" means, a company that has a lot of business with

international customers, for example, like technical support or customer service, now,

they could pay the people in the country where they're headquartered, but that could be very


So, for example, in America or Canada, to pay somebody to answer phone calls and ask...

Sorry, answer people's questions could be very expensive.

So, these companies farm out the work to other countries where the labour is cheaper.

So, for example, in Canada, it's very common for companies to farm out the tech support

work to places like India, for example.

Indians are very good with computers, very good with technology, but they also work for

less than Canadians do.

So, Canadian companies farm out the work; they send it out to somebody else.

So, the idea of "farm" comes from, like, you send cattle, for example.

When a farmer has cattle, he sends it to another cattle, they make new cattle, and then the

first one comes back.


So, that's part of the thinking there, to send out somewhere else.

Now, here I have "suck up" and "suck it up".

Two different meanings, which is why I put them both, but I put them together.

So, "suck up", again, if you're thinking about a vacuum cleaner, a vacuum cleaner sucks up

dirt from the ground.

That's fine.

But if you suck up to someone, for example, your boss, it means you're flattering them

too much.

You're saying too many good things to them because you want them to like you, maybe give

you a promotion, or maybe not fire you if you're not doing such a good job.

If you suck up to a teacher, you're always, like, asking questions, you're always telling

the teacher how pretty she looks or how handsome he looks, and you hope that the teacher will

give you better grades.

People don't like people who suck up, but people do it all the time.

A person who does...

Who sucks up to somebody a lot, we simply call a "suck up".


You just put the two words together and you have a noun.

But to "suck it up" means to basically take it in and not complain.



So, if you're doing a very hard job and you're very tired and you say to your boss, "Boss,

I'm tired.

I got to take a break."

"Suck it up", we have to finish this work today.


It means just tolerate the tiredness, tolerate the pain.

Just hold it in a little bit longer, do the job, and then go home and relax and do whatever

you want.

Suck it up.


Especially when we're talking about pain or something negative feeling.

Now, "man up", people think it's very strange because they've never seen "man" as a verb.

Now, technically, "man" has actually many uses as a verb.

You man the battlefields or you man the stations, means you...

Somebody is standing there taking care of the thing.

To "man up" means to be a man.


Like, don't complain.

It's a little similar to "suck it up".

"Man up" means don't be afraid, don't complain, just do it, have confidence, and just get

the job done, and then later do whatever you want.


It's a little bit slangy, but it's still commonly used.

And you can say this to a woman, too.

It doesn't have to be to a man.

If you tell a woman, "Come on, man up", some women will get offended, but the idea is just

be strong, be confident, and do what needs to be done.

"Weigh in".

So, now, again, in sports, let's say UFC or boxing, you have different categories of fighters.

You have a heavyweight, a middleweight, a lightweight, featherweight, etc.

All of these are different weights of the fighters.

So, before each match, all the fighters must stand on a scale and get their weights measured

to make sure they're in the right class of fighter.

But to "weigh in" on something can also mean to offer your own opinion or to offer your

own suggestion.

So, a company wants to make some changes, but they want to make sure that all the employees

are happy.

So, they ask all the employees to "weigh in" on the changes that the company needs to take,

to offer their opinion, to offer their suggestion or advice, etc.

So, basically, have your say, "weigh in".

"Light up".

"Light up" means make a place brighter.

That's the literal, if we're looking at light as light.

To "light up" also means to beat by a very heavy score, especially we're talking about


So, if one team lights up another team, means they're scoring many points against this team.

In more of a physical thing, if one person lights up another person, it means it beats

them up very much.

So, if I'm fighting somebody and I get many punches into his face, which I don't do, by

the way, but if I did, then you could say I lit him up, right?

I beat him very much with a lot of punches.

It's a bit slang as well, so be careful how you use that.

And speaking of beat, if you beat someone to something, that means you reach the goal

or whatever the something is first, right?

So, if I'm having a race and I beat all the other racers to the finish line, means I win.

But if I beat someone to, like, a goal, or I beat someone to speak to someone, that means

I did it first.

So, there's a girl that all the boys like, and all the boys are thinking, "Okay, I'm

going to ask her out.

I'm going to ask her out."

But I asked her out first, so I beat - and she said yes, and we went on a date - I beat

all the other boys to her, to the date, to the relationship, etc.

So, beat to, get there first, essentially.

So, that's all there is for all of these.

There are a lot of phrasal verbs in English, and I know they're very confusing for a lot

of people.

The main thing is, first of all, pay attention when you hear them.

Don't be shy about asking people, "What does that mean?"

But also, go on the internet, and if you hear some phrasal verb, just do a search.

Go to the dictionary, do a search on your search engine, and just start looking.

And always keep notes.

Phrasal verbs are basically vocabulary.

Every time you learn new vocabulary, write it down, use it in a sentence, and that's

how you're going to remember.


It's just practice.

There's no secret to it.

You just have to listen, pay attention when you're reading, when you're listening, look

them up in the dictionary, keep notes, and these will become much easier as you go along.


So, that's it.

If you have any questions about these, please go to www.engvid.com.

You can ask in the comments section.

There's also a quiz where you can test your understanding of all the explanations I gave

you here for these phrasals.

And yeah, that's it.

If you like the video, please give me a like.

Don't forget to subscribe to my channel, and come back next time for more vocab, grammar

tips, all kinds of interesting things.


See you.