Freaking out or shrugging it off? Phrasal verbs to express emotions (3)

Florin Christian Ailenei/EyeEm/GettyImages

by Liz Walter

My last two posts looked at phrasal verbs to describe a range of specific emotions, so I thought it would be nice to round the topic off by covering some phrasal verbs for talking about emotions in a more general way.

If someone shows a very strong negative emotion such as fear or anger, we can say informally that they freak out.

He freaked out when he saw the size of the waves

We sometimes say that a negative emotion eats away at someone, meaning that they think about it a lot and it continues to upset them, and if someone rakes up things that cause negative feelings, they make you remember bad things that happened in the past:

I could tell that his failure to get any acting jobs was eating away at him.

She couldn’t deal with the newspapers raking up stories of her divorce.

If you bottle up your feelings, you do not show them, and often do not acknowledge them even to yourself. If you fight down a feeling such as panic or fear, or fight down tears or laughter, you try very hard not to show them:

She had spent years bottling up her feelings of anger and grief.

He fought down a sudden urge to scream.

There are several phrasal verbs connected with stopping bad emotions. If you get over an experience that has made you unhappy, you start to feel happy again:

It took her years to get over the trauma of the fire.

Some phrasal verbs connected with stopping bad feelings are often used as commands. For instance, you might tell someone you think is too upset, excited etc to calm down. If you tell someone to pull themselves together or snap out of it, you mean that they should stop feeling sad or upset. These commands both sound very unsympathetic, and show that you are angry with the person showing the emotion:

Calm down! There’s no need to get so upset.

You need to pull yourself together and do something useful.

Come on, snap out of it! You’re spoiling the day for everyone.

If you shrug something off, you don’t let it upset you at all and if you dust yourself down after a bad experience, you act in a positive way and do not let it affect you badly:

They simply shrugged off all the criticism and carried on with their project.

He suffered many setbacks, but each time he picked himself up, dusted himself down, and carried on as cheerfully as ever.

I hope these posts on emotion phrasal verbs have been useful. Don’t let phrasal verbs freak you out, and if you make a mistake, just dust yourself down and try again!

27 thoughts on “Freaking out or shrugging it off? Phrasal verbs to express emotions (3)

  1. Khalid

    Explanations are always with enough details. Hardly would anyone need further clarity to understand the words/phrases. Whenever I see your posts, I read it completely as the examples used are given extra focus to make them easily retrievable.

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