by Liz Walter
In an earlier post, I looked at phrasal verbs connected with children’s bad behaviour and with some general adult bad behaviour. In this post, I will cover phrasal verbs connected with bullying, violent and dishonest behaviour.
If you pick on someone, you criticize them or treat them in an unfair way. If a group of people does this, we say that they gang up on/against someone. Similarly, if you put someone down, you make them feel stupid or unimportant by saying critical things about them:
Our English teacher always seems to pick on Leanne.
I felt as though all my friends were ganging up against me.
I hate the way she puts her colleagues down in meetings.
Last week, a tribunal awarded £2m to a woman who was hounded out of her job.
She spread lies to try to turn my friends against me.
If you freeze someone out, you make them feel that they are not part of a group or cannot take part in an activity, and if you wind someone up, you deliberately make them angry. This phrasal verb is rather informal:
Suddenly, she found herself frozen out of the decision-making process.
He only said it to wind me up.
If you do someone out of something that should be theirs, you dishonestly take it from them or stop them getting it and if you muscle in on an activity or situation, you force your way into it in order to get an advantage, even though people do not want you to:
The insurance company seems to be trying to do me out of the money it owes me.
I don’t want Kira to muscle in on our business venture.
If someone beats up a person, they hit or kick them many times and hurt them badly:
He was badly beaten up on his way home one night.
And finally, a few general phrasal verbs. If you sit by or stand by while something bad is happening, you do nothing to stop it. If you egg someone on, you encourage them to do something bad, and if you stir things up, you deliberately make a difficult situation, such as an argument, worse:
I couldn’t just sit by while Julia was being so unkind to Rob.
The boys were fighting and their friends were egging them on.
She was always stirring up trouble in the family.
This is just a selection of bad behaviour phrasal verbs – do comment below if you can think of any others.