separable phrasal verb: fight off

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Today’s phrasal verb is “fight off”, and it has two different meanings.

1. for someone to defend themselves against an attacker and make them run away. For example:

I read in the newspaper about a woman who was attacked in her home, but she was able to fight the guy off.

I think you should take a self defense class. A lot of people have been attacked lately, and you should learn how to fight off any attackers.

The Spanish attacked England a long time ago, but the English fought them off.

2. for someone to do something in order to prevent an illness in the beginning stages from becoming too serious. For example:

I think I’m catching a cold. I’m going to take some medicine tonight and go to bed early so I can fight it off.

If you start to get flu symptoms, you should drink this. It will help you fight off the flu.

I tried to fight off my cold by taking medicine and drinking juice, but it didn’t work. It’s become much worse now.

With the first meaning of “fight off”, it can be used for attacks against individual people or against countries such as in a war situation.

With the second meaning, it’s almost always used to talk about a cold or the flu, but we don’t use it to talk about very serious diseases like cancer.

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