In terms of word count, what is the longest phrasal verb in the language? (The longest that I can think of is only three words long, but there must be longer ones, right?)

Take "bend over backward" for instance. It's my understanding that "bend over backward" is a phrasal verb, because "over" and "backward" are not simply functioning as adverbs—the three words combined have a meaning that is distinct from any definition of the word "bend."

The winner of this competition shall earn the title Honored Champion of the Phrasal Verb.

  • 2
    The term 'phrasal verb' has conflicting definitions. Claridge (In 'Multi-word Verbs in Early Modern English ...') gives an overview of terminology, and lists the subset of verbo-nominal multi-word verbs such as put an end to. – Edwin Ashworth Oct 2 '17 at 21:48
  • 1
    Can you give an example of what you mean? (what is this one that you can think of?) – Mitch Oct 2 '17 at 23:03
  • 1
    Plus which, why? How could it matter, Paul? – Robbie Goodwin Oct 3 '17 at 22:59
  • 1
    @Robbie Goodwin It was my impression that everything about the English language matters here. Because this is a question that I've been thinking about a lot lately—for weeks—I thought I would open up the question to the rest of the forum. My apologies if the question is somehow beneath you. – Paul Oct 5 '17 at 0:25
  • 1
    "Bend over backwards" is an verb-idiom with a distinct meaning -- to "make every effort (to do something)". The meaning is completely distinct from "bend over in the direction of one's back" . – Roy Tinker Feb 21 '18 at 18:42

I just got

Make it up to

Four words.


I found

Plump yourself down

For a tie with

Bend over backward

If your not counting spaces


Get away with something (Cambridge Dictionary). For example:

I think I just got away with this; counting something as the fourth word. ;)

protected by tchrist Jul 24 '18 at 0:16

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality or spam answers that had to be removed, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site (the association bonus does not count).

Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.