Game On! Phrasal Verbs for Competition

competitionDo you thrive under competitive pressure?  Are you constantly comparing your abilities to those of your peers, siblings, or co-workers?  Or are you simply a sports fan? If you answered yes to any of these, this entry will be very interesting for you because these are expressions every competitor and sports fan should know!

Size … Up/ – to evaluate the strength of a person or situation

  • We’re sizing up potential competitors in the area, and we think we’ll enter the market with a relative advantage.

Stack up against/ – to compare strengths/capabilities

  • How does the Atlanta Falcon’s defense stack up against the New Orleans’s Saints’ potent offense?

Note: While both this phrasal verb and the previous one (“Size …up”) involve measurements and evaluations of strength, it is important to note that one is an action (looking in order to evaluate) and the other is a relation (comparison of two or more people or things). To illustrate:

  • Barry sized up the man standing in front of him to determine if he could survive a fight with him.
  • Barry wondered how he stacked up against the size and speed of his adversary.


  • Barry stacked up against the man in front of him to determine if he could survive a fight with him.
  • Barry wondered how he sized up against his adversary in terms of size and speed.

Blow … Out/ – To defeat an opponent by a large margin (in scoring competitions)

  • Last year’s games were close and very competitive, but this year, Chicago blew Miami out every time they played each other. The closest game was 95-72.

Note: This phrasal verb can’t be used for competitions in which the score isn’t the factor determining, such as card games, boxing matches ending in knockouts, or competitions between businesses for customers, for example.

Shut … Out/ – To allow no points for the opposing team/player

  • The goalie had a great game. He shut them out even though they made 40 attempts to score!

Do you want to keep training? Have a look at our main phrasal verbs page for more practice materials!

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