The word ‘come’ can mean many different things. As a verb, the meaning is to move towards, reach a certain point and to happen.

For example:

  • Come here, I want to show you something. (move towards)
  • The grass comes up to my hips. (reach a certain point)
  • Opportunities like this don’t come that often. (produce a state)


Come is an irregular verb. The past tense is came and the past participle is come.

idiomatic phrasal verbs

Did you know phrasal verbs are sometimes used in idioms? See if you can spot any. If you don’t know any phrasal verbs with ‘come’, click here to learn them.

Check out the grammar section if you want to learn more about verbs.

idiom list with ‘come’

  • come apart at the seams – fall to pieces, stop functioning properly
    e.g. Our marriage is coming apart at the seams, I think we’re heading for divorce.
  • come from behind – win/succeed after being in a losing position
    e.g. The youngster is coming from behind. Can he take the champion’s crown?
  • come into bloom – start to produce flowers
    e.g. You need to wait a few more months. These flowers don’t come into bloom until July.
  • come into fashion – become fashionable
    e.g. I’m going to keep all my old clothes. One day they’ll come back into fashion.
  • come of age – become an adult, reach 18 years old
    e.g. I can’t believe my baby will be coming of age next week. Where did the time go?
  • come out swinging – go immediately of the offensive
    e.g. The young boxer came out swinging and knocked out his opponent in 30 seconds.
  • come out/up smelling of roses – still have a good reputation despite being involved in something negative
    e.g. It was Connor’s idea to rob the safe, but he still comes out smelling of roses.
  • come rain or shine – no matter what the weather is, something will still happen
    e.g. The match will be on tomorrow come rain or shine.
  • come to a head – a situation reaches a climax
    e.g. Tensions came to a head in the town and violence erupted.
  • come to blows – start arguing/fighting after a disagreement
    e.g. It all came to blows when Christine found out who keyed her car.
  • come up short – insufficient, lacking what you need, unsuccessful
    e.g. I keep coming up short on auditions, maybe I should quit singing.
  • come/crawl out of the woodwork – appear suddenly after being hidden for a long time
    e.g. 10,000 fans came out of the woodwork when we reached the final.
  • don’t/doesn’t come cheap – good quality but expensive
    e.g. I send my kids to private school. It doesn’t come cheap, but the school is excellent.
  • till the cows come home – for a very long time
    e.g. Don’t ever start an argument with Will. He can argue till the cows come home.
  • wheel come/fall off – something suddenly/unexpectedly fails
    e.g. We were 3-0 up, then the wheel came off.

Let’s see these idioms with pictures and meaning using real-life scenarios.

verb phrases - come
come apart at the seams
verb phrases - come from behind
verb phrases - come into bloom
verb phrases - come into fashion
Idioms with verbs - COMEcome of age
verb phrases - come out swinging
verb phrases - come out/up smelling of roses
verb expressions - come rain or shine
Idioms with verbs - COMEcome to a head
verb phrases - come to blows
verb phrases - come up short
verb phrases - come/crawl out of the woodwork
verb expressions - don’t/doesn’t come cheap
verb expressions - easy come, easy go
verb expressions - till the cows come home
verb phrases - wheel come/fall off


Hey, did you know the verb ‘come’ has many phrasal verbs. Since you like idioms and phrases, you obviously want to improve your fluency and speak like a native.

Am I right?


I thought you might like to learn the phrasal verbs with ‘come’ too. They are very common in informal English and great to know/be able to understand if you happen to be speaking to a native. We use them all the time, like literally ALL the time.