Angry Verbs: Phrasal Verbs for Expressing Frustration

frustrationAnger is one of our strongest emotions, so it makes sense that we have lots of phrasal verbs that we use to talk about it. Have a look!

Take … out on/ – to direct anger at an innocent third-party

  • It’s not my fault that your girlfriend cheated on you, so don’t take it out on me!

Note: This phrasal verb is exclusively separated. Sometimes, however, the object can come between “out” and “on,” especially when the object is a phrase, like in the following example:

  • They took out their frustration about the failed test on me and made me stay late.


  • They took out on me their frustration about the failed test and made me stay late.

Flip out on/ – To suddenly direct strong anger/frustration at someone

  • If I forget my anniversary my girlfriend is going to flip out on I forgot last year and we almost broke up!

Note: We can substitute the preposition “about” in place of “on” in order to indicate the cause, rather than the recipient, of the anger or frustration. For example:

  • The board of directors is flipping outabout the tax audit. Apparently there have been some dishonest accounting practices.

Hold … against/ – To maintain anger/distrust towards someone because of their past actions

  • My brother was really mean to me when we were kids, but I don’t hold it against We were just kids, and now he’s one of my best friends.

Note: This is yet another phrasal verb that we use in exclusively separated form (meaning, it needs to have an object). The following example is therefore incorrect:

  • It’s not healthy to hold against people for things they did a long time ago.

Set … off/ – To cause someone to release anger they had kept contained

  • If you start talking about his family you’re going to set him off. The last time he discussed his relatives he was upset for days.

Note: This phrasal verb can be used in a different context where it means “to trigger an alarm.” For example:

  • The smoke from the toaster set off the smoke alarm and the building was evacuated.

Don’t be upset! There are plenty more practice materials waiting for you at our main phrasal verbs page!

Different Englishes: The House

houseDifferent Englishes: The House is an essential entry for anyone planning to talk about the house with Brits or Americans, as some of the terms are completely different. Additionally, if ever you intend to rent or buy a place in an English-speaking country this can offer useful guidance for understanding what to look for.

Key: UK vs. US word

Block of flats vs. Apartment building

  • Although we have gradually adopted ‘apartment’ in the UK, the most common way to call a one floor building is a flat and when there are many we call them a block of flats. In the US this is referred to as an apartment building. These are particularly common in big cities.

 Council estate OR council housing vs. Housing project

  • An area where there is lots of social housing – housing subsidised by the government. This could also be called ‘the projects’ in the US.

Note: in the UK “the Council” simply means the local government.

 Estate Agent vs. Real Estate Agent OR Realtor

  • The person who finds you a house for a fee. Realtor is the commonly used term in the US, but this refers to the specific company they are from.

Show home vs. Model home

  • In a new housing development there is often a house that the estate agents furnish to look like a home for potential buyers to visit.

Note: In the UK we call it a show home because we show it to buyers, and in the US it’s a model home as it’s supposed to show how other houses in the development could potentially look.

 Ground floor vs. First floor

  • The bottom floor of a building (as long as not underground). In the UK the first floor is above the ground floor i.e. one floor off of the ground, whereas in the US this would be called the second floor, and so on.

Note: This one confuses even native speakers so it is worth remembering!

Cellar / Basement– the room underground a house. This is more commonly found in the US.

Loft / Attic– the room or storage space in the roof, above the top floor of a house. Usually you would use a ladder to reach this area of the house.

Garden / (back) yard – the outdoor area where plants are grown. Usually at the back of the house.

Not feeling quite at home yet? Visit our mainpage for more examples.

Connotative Words: Other Ways to Say Busy

busyHello again from our Connotative Words Series! If you’re like us, you’ve really had your hands full of work lately so we’ve decided to devote this entry in the series to different ways to say busy.

People are busy when they’re working, especially working hard. A busy person gives most of his or her attention, efforts and time, to a particular thing. People are industrious if they regularly work hard; and they’re hard-working ifthey alwaysdo demanding, effortful work.

A period of time is busywhen we have a lot of things to do. If we’re told “there’s a very busy week coming next week,” we’d better prepare for an imminent burst of work. “Burst” means here “a short period of increased effort or activity.”Our schedule will surely be full and we’ll have to go into overdrive (a state of great activity, effort and hard work.)Our day will be all go (or in overdrive) and we’ll be knee-deep in (completely engaged in) the rough and tumble (very demanding and forceful activities).If it’s been a hectic day then it’s been very intense or full of fast activity.

A busy place is usually crowded and bustling, full of busy activity. Streets, harbors, etc. are busy when a lot of people or vehicles are using them. Facilities such as lavatories, telephones or shared equipment are busy (UK engaged), when they’re unavailable because they’re currently in use.

Busy people and places can be buzzing ‑ also humming with activity when they’re noisy and full of energy. This noisy activity is called the hurly-burly; or the hustle and bustle if we find it exciting. When a place attracts a lot of activity of a particular kind or it’s very popular, we call it a hothouse or a hot spot.

Well, with so much time of business I’m sure you’ve got other things to do. Today we focused on other ways to say busy but stay tuned for our upcoming posts and don’t forget to come by our homepage for further practice and discovery of these and more Connotative Words!

Business Idioms: Idioms about Bargaining

priceValue for money is important in all aspects of life but especially in the business world. As a result, in this installment of our Business Idioms series we have prepared something for all of you bargain hunters out there: a whole set of idioms about bargaining.

bang for the buck – value for the money spent.

  • We were able to get a lot of bang for our buck when we advertised online; we spent very little but got a lot of responses!

Note: buck is a word used for a dollar in the United States of America originating from the practice of trading deer (buck) skins for other products or services in the 1700’s.

a steal – a bargain or good deal

  • The new computers weren’t exactly a steal at this price, but they were still good value.

cheap at twice the price – very inexpensive, good value for money.

  • We paid only $2000 to have the whole security system installed! It would have been cheap at twice the price.

Note: An even stronger way to say the same thing would be to say “a steal at twice the price.”

for a song – cheaply, for next to nothing

  • I picked up this car for a song because of some aesthetic damage.

Note: when we use this idiom it is as if something free (the singing of a song) had been accepted as payment.

cut-rate – a price lower than usual

  • We went to a cut-rate furniture store to buy all of the furnishings for our new office.

Note: Price can be exchanged for rate in this idiom without affecting the meaning (e.g., we bought all of our new furnishings at a cut-price).

For more installments from the Business Idiom series as well as a whole host of other useful articles and materials please visit our homepage.