Pining for colourful ways to spice up what you write or say? Brush up on compound (multi-word) verbs so you won’t have to paper over holes in your vocabulary. Here is our list of verbs that start with the letters P, Q, R and S.



pack in

To stop doing, give up

Example: After hiking for two hours, the kids were ready to pack it in.


pal about/around

To be friendly, spend time with someone

Example: The two of us palled around all through grammar school.


palm off

To persuade to accept an untruth, to trick or dispose of by misrepresentation

Example: He tried to palm that problem off on me.


paper over

To gloss over, conceal, explain away, superficially hide or disguise

Example: They tried to paper over all their mistakes.


peg away

To work hard and long, to persist

Example: I pegged away for weeks before my exams.


peter out

To lose impetus and stop, to dwindle to nothing

Example: Everyone was keen at first, but the enthusiasm petered out when they saw the number of people standing in line.





pine for

To miss or long for

Example: The dog pined for his owner at the entrance to the store.


play upon/on

To exploit a weakness

Example: The insurance agent played on my sense of fear to sell me multiple-peril insurance.bill


pony up

To pay money

Example: I had to pony up fifty dollars for the meal.


polish off

To finish or consume

Example: The child polished of the pudding in no time at all!


put over

To trick, to achieve by deceit

Example: The dishonest dealer tried to put one over on me when he lied about the painting’s worth.


put across

To present or deliver convincingly

Example: Jennifer got the job because she was able to put her innovative ideas across clearly and effectively.








queue up 

To be extremely eager to do or have something

Example: People are queuing up to buy gifts online before the big sale ends.


quit on

To stop helping or working with someone

Example: He quit on us just when we were about to build a human pyramid.


quiet down

To make silent, calm

Example: The congregation quieted down when the worship service began.







ratonrat on

To report wrongdoings, to tattle

Example: He ratted on his neighbours to the police because they were making their own moonshine and beer.


ride up

To move higher, out of position

Example: Her skirt rode up when she sat down.


root out

To uncover, find and remove

Example: No matter how long the initiative lasts, it will never be able to root out corruption. 


run across

To encounter, or meet by chance

Example: In London, we unexpectedly ran across an old friend.


run through

To repeat, practise or examine quickly

Example: The actors ran through the scene one last time before the dress rehearsal.







sag off

To be absent from school or work without an excuse, to leave early

Example: I was bored so I sagged off work and went home.


scrape through

To manage or survive with difficulty, to succeed narrowly

Example: She scraped through high school and applied to a junior college.


sex up

To make more attractive or interesting

Example: The government official denied her office had sexed up the report to make the front page.shakedown


shake down 

To search

Example: The police shook down the hippies looking for drugs.


show throughangry-smile

To be visible or evident

Example: His anger showed through despite his smile.


smack of

To imply, have a negative characteristic or quality

Example: The government’s decision smacks of hypocrisy.


soldier onsoldieron

To continue with determination

Example: Life got hard for my father when he went blind, but he just soldiered on and never complained.


steal away

To leave quietly or secretly

Example: We didn’t want to wake them, so we stole away in the middle of the night.



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