In my last post, I shared with you the first five English words with the most definitions in the dictionary.

As I mentioned in that post, the English Language has many words that have multiple meanings and this can often confuse the language learner. My previous post dealt with the words run, take, break, turn and set.

Today I shall share the next five words as shown in the following infographic that was compiled by Kaplan International together with You can view this infographic here on the Kaplan website.

The examples shown are of the different verb and noun meanings and verb phrases for each word. I must point out that I have not shown you all the different meanings but just a few to give you a flavour of the multiple meanings.

words with multiple meaningsKaplan International Colleges

1. GO


  • I go to the gym every day ◆ I go to work by car ◆ Are you ready to go to lunch? (move or travel from one place to another)
  • How are things going at work? ◆ I think the interview went well  (to happen in  a particular way)
  • go blind/deaf/grey/baldLouise went completely blind before she diedgo wild/crazyI knew they would go crazy when they found out ◆ go bad/sour/rotten The bananas have gone bad(change to another condition state, usually a worse one)
  • This week’s gone so fast. I can’t believe it’s already Friday (when time passes)


Noun and Noun Phrases

  • Why don’t you have a go at writing this email ◆ I thought I’d give skiing a go this winter (an attempt to do something)
  • Don’t eat the whole thing in one go.
  • It’s all go this morning. We haven’t stopped once!(British spoken used to say that something is full of activity)
  • I’ve decided that I’m going to make a go of this business (informal – to do something successfully)

Verb Phrases

  • As history books go, this is rather good (when you consider what things of the same type are like)
  • David will go far in life (to be successful in what you do)
  • She has decided to go it alone  (to do something without depending on anyone for help)
  • This time you have gone too far (to behave in a way that is unreasonable)




  • I play tennis every Saturday (take part in sport/game)
  • The orchestra played beautifully tonight   The tape was played in court (to make music/sound)
  • She played the part of Blanche Dubois in the Streetcar named Desire ( to have a part in a play or film)

Noun and Noun Phrases

  • Have you seen the latest play at the theatre?
  • When the new policy comes into play, fewer people will have control (start to happen or have an effect)
  • I love that line. It has such a wonderful play on words (clever or funny use of a word that has two different meanings)

Verb Phrases

  • If you play your cards right, he might offer you the job (informal – if you behave in a certain way, you might be successful in getting what you want)
  • “I just have to make a phone call,” she said playing for time (to deliberately delay something so that you have more time to think about what to do)
  • They are probably fine raw, but it’s best to play it safe and cook them (avoid taking risks)


 3. CUT


  • You will need a sharp knife to cut the bread
  • Be careful you don’t cut your finger using that knife
  • The Government needs to cut interest rates to stimulate the economy (reduce/lower) 
  • The accident cut (cut off) the oxygen to her brain All lines of communication have been cut  (cutt off)( stop something moving or working)
  • A lot of the violent scenes were cut (cut out) from the film (make something shorter or remove)


  • She has a very deep cut in her finger and it is bleeding profusely
  • There have been some deep cuts in the sales budget 
  • She always chooses the best cut of beef to serve at her restaurant (piece of meat)

Verb Phrases

  • Independence in a relationship cuts both ways (it has both good and bad aspects)
  • They had to cut corners in order to complete the order (not to do a job as throughly as you should)
  • Her agent cut a deal giving her 20% of the profits (make a business deal)
  • We had to cut our holiday short because of the problems at work – (to reduce the time)


4. UP

UP can be used in the following ways:

  • Adverb: Their voices could be heard up in our room  Jean looked up at him  I stood up
  • Preposition: He climbed up the stairs I set off up the road
  • Adjective: the up escalator
  • after the verb ‘to be: He was up early this morning Food prices are up  I knew something was up

Verb Phrases

  • We paid a lot of money for the hotel, but it wasn’t up to much (British spoken – not very good)
  • It’s not like Sarah to be late. Something must be up. (Spoken – something bad is happening or there is something wrong)
  • We’ve really been up against it this year, trying to meet all our production deadlines (in a difficult situation)
  • He was up and about again two days after his operation (out of bed for example after an illness)
  • After a month of no internet, the system is up and running. (working effectively)
  • I don’t know whether I will have the time to do this for you. I am up to my neck/ears/eyes in work.
  • What’s up? You’re very quiet today. (Spoken– used for asking what is wrong) 


5. HAND 


  • It was a large farm with over 20 hired hands  (someone who works on a farm or does physical work)
  • Could you give me a hand to move this table? Would you like a hand with the washing up?  (help someone)
  • Let’s give the children a big hand for the wonderful show (to clap your hands to show you enjoyed a performance)

Noun Phrases

  • I couldn’t lay my hands on a copy of the book (to manage to obtain something)
  • Economic stability go hand in hand with job creation (to exist together)
  • I can’t agree to this because my hands are tied. (cannot do what you want because of rules or laws)
  • She really has her hands full with the children (to be busy)
  • The company is now in the hands of the receiver (to be responsible for it)


Verb and Phrasal Verbs

  • Gerry handed me the document at the meeting. She handed me the phone (give something you’re holding in your hand to someone)
  • Jane handed the letter back to Doug (give back)
  • You need to hand in your completed reports by the end of today. He has handed in his notice/resignation(to give something to a person in authority)
  • I am going to now hand out a copy of the sales report ( to give something to a group) ◆ The office will not hand out employees’ telephone numbers (give information or advice)
  • I’m now going to hand you over to James who will explain the new product launch (to stop speaking and pass over to someone else She handed the keys over to Stella  They formally handed over power to the new government last week (to give power  or control to someone else)


The above examples are just a few that I have selected here. Please do share with me any other meanings you know and use.

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Ciao for now


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