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. Oct 2, 2017 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, 2017 at 23:03
  • 1
    Plus which, why? How could it matter, Paul? Oct 3, 2017 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, 2017 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, 2018 at 18:42

3 Answers 3


I just got

Make it up to

Four words.

  • Nice, it's 5 words if you'd count the somebody in keeping with Cambridge Dictionary's convention.
    – JJJ
    Jul 24, 2018 at 1:33

I found

Plump yourself down

For a tie with

Bend over backward

If your not counting spaces

  • The question is about word count, not the number of characters.
    – JJJ
    Jul 23, 2018 at 23:46

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

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


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