Meaning of DO in English


I. do 1 S1 W1 /duː/ BrE AmE auxiliary verb ( past tense did /dɪd/, past participle done /dʌn/, third person singular does /dəz; strong dʌz/)

[ Language: Old English ; Origin: don ]

1 .

a) used with another verb to form questions or negatives:

Do you like bananas?

I don’t feel like going out tonight.

Ian didn’t answer.

Where do you live?

Doesn’t Rosie look wonderful?

Don’t listen to her!

b) spoken used to form ↑ question tag s (=short questions that you add to the end of statements) :

You know Tony, don’t you?

She didn’t understand, did she?

2 . used instead of repeating a verb that has already been used:

‘Will Kay come?’ ‘She may do.’

So now you know as much as I do.

‘You forgot all about it.’ ‘No, I didn’t.’

‘I want to go home.’ ‘So do I.’

I didn’t believe the story and neither did he.

3 . used to emphasize the main verb in a sentence:

Do be careful.

You do look nice in that hat.

I do think she’s behaved badly.

‘You should have warned me.’ ‘But I did warn you.’

He owns, or did own (=emphasizing past tense) , a yacht.

4 . spoken used when politely offering someone something:

Do have another sandwich.

II. do 2 S1 W1 BrE AmE verb ( past tense did , past participle done , third person singular does )

[ Word Family: verb : ↑ do , ↑ outdo , ↑ overdo , ↑ redo , ↑ undo ; noun : ↑ deed ≠ ↑ misdeed , ↑ do , ↑ doing ; adjective : ↑ done , ↑ overdone , ↑ undone ]

1 . ACTION/ACTIVITY [transitive] to perform an action or activity:

Have you done your homework yet?

You need to do more exercise.

It’s a pleasure doing business with you.

I didn’t know what to do.

All he does is sit in front of the television all day.

do something/nothing/anything etc

We should do something to help him.

It all happened so quickly that I couldn’t do anything about it.

bored teenagers with nothing to do

do the laundry/ironing/dishes etc

It’s your turn to do the dishes.


In written English, people often use the verb act rather than the phrase do something , as it sounds more formal:

The government needs to act to help these people.

2 . SUCCEED [intransitive] used to ask or talk about how successful someone is at something

do well/badly

Students are under considerable pressure to do well.

how somebody/something is doing (with/in something)

You should get promoted after about a year, depending on how you’re doing.

How’s he doing in trying to give up smoking?

3 . HAVE AN EFFECT [transitive] to have a particular effect on something or someone:

The scandal will do serious damage to his reputation.

This will do nothing for (=will not improve) Jamie’s confidence.

The colour does nothing for her (=does not improve her appearance) .

Getting the job has done a lot for (=had a good effect on) her self-esteem.

A week in the countryside will do you good (=make you feel better) .

Exercise can do wonders for (=have a very good effect on) body, mind, and spirit.

4 . JOB [transitive] to have a particular job:

What do you want to do after you leave school?

What do you do for a living (=as your job) ?

She’s very good at what she does.

5 . ENOUGH/ACCEPTABLE [intransitive, transitive not in progressive] used to say that something will be enough or be acceptable:

We don’t have a lot of wine for the party, but it should just about do.

I can’t find my black shoes so these will have to do.

A few sandwiches will do me for lunch.

It won’t do (=it is not acceptable) to say that the situation couldn’t have been avoided.

6 . what somebody will do for something used to talk about what arrangements someone has made to get something they need:

What will you do for money if you leave your job?

I’m not sure what we’ll do for transport yet.

7 . what is somebody/something doing? spoken used to ask why someone or something is in a particular place or doing a particular thing, especially when you are surprised or annoyed by this:

What’s my coat doing on the floor?

What are you doing walking around at this time of night?

What on earth do you think you’re doing?

8 . do your/sb’s hair/nails/make-up etc to do something that improves your appearance or someone else’s appearance:

It must take her ages to do her make-up in the mornings.

Who does your hair?

9 . SPEND TIME [transitive] informal to spend a period of time doing something:

She did a year backpacking around the world.

Oh yes, I certainly did my time in the army (=spent time in the army) .

10 . STUDY [transitive not in passive] British English to study a particular subject in a school or university:

I did French for five years.

11 . COOK [transitive] to cook a particular type of food:

I was thinking of doing a casserole tonight.

12 . do 10 miles/20 kms etc to achieve a particular distance, speed etc:

We did 300 kilometres on the first day.

The car can do 120 mph.

13 . PROVIDE A SERVICE [transitive] to provide a particular service or sell a particular product:

They do interior and exterior design.

We don’t do food after two o'clock.

14 . PERFORM A PLAY [transitive] to perform a particular play, show etc:

We did ‘Guys and Dolls’ last year.

15 . DECORATE [transitive] to paint or decorate a room, house etc:

How are you going to do your living room?

16 . BEHAVE [intransitive] to behave in a particular way:

In the evenings students are free to do as they please (=do what they want) .

I wish you’d do as you’re told (=do what you are told to do) !

17 . somebody doesn’t do nice/funny/sensible etc spoken informal used humorously to say that someone cannot or does not behave in a particular way:

Sensible? I don’t do sensible.

18 . COPY BEHAVIOUR [transitive] to copy someone’s behaviour or the way they talk, especially in order to entertain people:

He does a brilliant George Bush (=copies him in a very funny way) .

19 . do lunch/do a movie etc informal to have lunch, go to see a film etc with someone:

Let’s do lunch next week.

20 . DRUGS [transitive] informal to use an illegal drug:

He says he’s never done hard drugs in his life.

21 . VISIT [transitive] to visit a particular place, especially as a tourist:

Let’s do the Eiffel Tower today.

22 . that’ll do! spoken used to tell a child to stop behaving badly

23 . that does it! spoken used to say angrily that you will not accept a situation any more:

Right, that does it! I’m not going to listen to any more of this!

24 . that should do it ( also that ought to do it ) spoken used to say that you will have finished doing something if you just do one more thing:

I’ve just got to prepare the dessert and that should do it.

25 . do it informal to have sex – used humorously or when you want to avoid saying the word ‘sex’

26 . somebody would do well to do something used to advise someone that they should do something:

Most people would do well to reduce the amount of salt in their diet.

27 . PUNISH [transitive] British English spoken to punish or attack someone ⇨ be/get done at ↑ done 2 (8)

28 . DECEIVE [transitive] British English informal to deceive or trick someone ⇨ be done at ↑ done 2 (7)

29 . what’s doing ...? spoken used to ask what is happening:

What’s doing at your place tonight?

30 . do or die used to say that someone is determined to do something very brave or dangerous even if they die attempting it

31 . how (are) you doing? spoken used when you meet someone to ask them if they are well, happy etc:

Hi Bob, how you doing?

32 . what can I do you for? spoken used humorously to ask someone how you can help them, especially when you are trying to sell them something

33 . do well by somebody to treat someone well:

His relations always did pretty well by him.

34 . do one spoken informal used to tell someone who is making you feel upset or angry to go away:

Oh, just go and do one!

⇨ ↑ doing , ↑ done 2 , ⇨ do your bit at ↑ bit 2 (8), ⇨ how do you do at ↑ how (11), ⇨ nothing doing at ↑ nothing 1 (14), ⇨ do somebody proud at ↑ proud (5), ⇨ do something to death at ↑ death (4), ⇨ ↑ can-do

• • •

COLLOCATIONS (for Meaning 1)

■ do + NOUN

▪ do a job/task

On Saturdays I usually do a few jobs around the house.

▪ do some/any/ no etc work

She was feeling too tired to do any work.

▪ do the shopping/cleaning/ironing/cooking etc

Who does the cooking in your family?

▪ do the housework (=jobs in your home such as cleaning, washing clothes etc)

I’ve been doing the housework all day.

▪ do the dishes ( also do the washing-up British English ) (=wash the plates after a meal)

Will anyone help me do the washing-up?

▪ do the laundry ( also do the washing British English ) (=wash dirty clothes)

Ellie was doing the washing.

▪ do your homework

My parents don’t let me go out unless I’ve done my homework.

▪ do a calculation/sum (=use numbers to find out a figure, price etc)

I did a quick calculation on a piece of paper.

▪ do business (=buy and sell goods, or provide services)

The company does a lot of business in China.

▪ do something/nothing/anything

He lay on the sofa and did nothing all day.

• • •

COLLOCATIONS (for Meaning 3)

■ do + NOUN

▪ do some/any/no good (=improve a situation)

It might do some good if you talk to him about the problem.


The fresh air has done me good.

▪ do somebody good (=make someone feel better)

▪ not do (somebody) any harm also do (somebody) no harm (=not have a bad effect on something or someone)

One or two chocolate cookies won’t do you any harm.

▪ do damage (to something/somebody)

A mistake like that can do a lot of damage to your career.

■ phrases

▪ do a lot for something (=have a good effect on something)

The new leisure centre has done a lot for the town’s image.

▪ do nothing for something (=not have a good effect on something)

Being apart for so long did nothing for our relationship.

▪ do nothing for somebody (=used to say that particular clothes, colours etc do not suit someone)

I liked the dress but it did nothing for me.

▪ do wonders for something (=have a very good effect on something)

A new haircut can do wonders for your self-confidence.

▪ do more harm than good (=used to say that something had a bad effect rather than a good one)

I followed his advice but it did more harm than good.

• • •


▪ do to do something – used in the following phrases: do your work/homework etc :

It usually takes me a couple of hours to do my homework.

| do the shopping/cooking/washing etc :

She’s gone to the supermarket to do the shopping.

| do a test/experiment/some research :

The doctor did some tests.


Fraser spent some time in Egypt doing some archaeological research.


Scientists are doing research on two types of vaccine.

| do a course :

Have you decided which course you want to do at university?

▪ make to do something – used in the following phrases: make a speech :

The Prince made a short speech.

| make a comment/suggestion/joke :

Can I make a suggestion?

| make a decision :

The committee will meet to make their final decision.

| make a mistake :

I think someone has made a mistake.

▪ give to do something – used in the following phrases: give a talk/speech/lecture :

They’ve asked him to give a talk.

| give a performance :

The band gave a brilliant performance.

▪ take to do something – used in the following phrases: take a test/exam :

Kate’s taking her driving test tomorrow.

| take a bath/shower :

I think I’ll go and take a shower.

| take a walk :

Normally, he took a walk in the evenings.

▪ commit to do something that is a crime, especially a serious crime: commit a crime :

The crime was committed in the early hours of the morning.

| commit a robbery/murder etc :

Dixon later admitted committing the robbery.

▪ carry out something to do something – used in the following phrases: carry out your work :

The violence is making it difficult for firefighters to carry out their work.

| carry out a task/duty :

He still managed to carry out his duties.

| carry out a survey/test/some research :

The hospital carries out research into skin diseases.

| carry out an operation :

The operation was carried out at a hospital in Paris.

| carry out a threat/promise :

They didn’t carry out their threat to kill the hostages.

| carry out sb’s orders/instructions/wishes :

I’m sure I can rely on you to carry out my instructions.

▪ perform to do something. Perform is more formal than carry out , and is used in the following phrases: perform a task/duty :

The job mostly involves performing administrative tasks.

| perform an operation :

A team of surgeons performed the operation.

▪ conduct to do something – used in the following phrases: conduct a survey/study/experiment :

They conducted a survey of approximately 2,000 people living in the area.

| conduct an inquiry/investigation :

The police are conducting an investigation into the cause of the fire.

| conduct an interview :

Knowing how to conduct a successful interview is a skill.

| conduct a campaign :

People were unimpressed by the way in which the election campaign was conducted.

▪ go about something to do your work or the things that you usually do, especially when something serious has happened: go about your work/business :

The next day she went about her business as if nothing had happened.

▪ get on with something spoken especially British English to start doing something that you should have started already or to continue doing something that you stopped doing for a short time:

I need to get on with my homework.

▪ be up to something spoken to be doing something that you think is probably bad, although you do not know exactly what it is:

I’m sure they’re up to something.


What’s Jake up to? He’s been upstairs in his room all day.

do away with somebody/something phrasal verb

1 . to get rid of something or stop using it:

People thought that the use of robots would do away with boring low-paid factory jobs.

2 . informal to kill someone

do somebody ↔ down phrasal verb

to criticize someone, especially in an unfair way:

I know you don’t like him, but there’s no need to keep doing him down in front of the boss.

do for somebody/something phrasal verb

British English informal to kill someone or harm something or someone very badly:

Working 100 hours a week nearly did for me.

⇨ be done for at ↑ done 2 (3)

do somebody in phrasal verb informal

1 . to kill someone:

He was planning to do himself in.

2 . to make someone feel extremely tired:

That walk really did me in.

⇨ done in at ↑ done 2 (4)

do something ↔ out phrasal verb British English

1 . to make a room look nice by decorating it:

The room was beautifully done out in pastel colours.

2 . informal to clean a room or cupboard thoroughly

do somebody out of something phrasal verb informal

to dishonestly stop someone from getting or keeping something, especially something they have a right to have:

Are you trying to do me out of a job?

do somebody/something over phrasal verb

1 . do something ↔ over especially American English to make a place look attractive by decorating it:

The whole apartment had been done over in an Art Deco style.

2 . American English to do something again, especially because you did it wrong the first time:

If you make too many mistakes, you’ll have to do it over.

3 . do something ↔ over British English spoken informal to steal things from a building

4 . British English spoken informal to attack and injure someone

do up phrasal verb

1 . to fasten something, or to be fastened in a particular way

do something ↔ up

Do up your coat or you’ll get cold.

a skirt which does up at the back

2 . do something ↔ up to repair an old building or car, or to improve its appearance:

They did up an old cottage in the Scottish Highlands.

3 . do something ↔ up to decorate something in a particular way:

The apartment was done up in Viennese style.

4 . do something ↔ up to wrap something in paper

5 . do yourself up to make yourself look neat and attractive:

Sue spent ages doing herself up.

do with something phrasal verb

1 . could do with something spoken to need or want something:

I could have done with some help this morning.

2 . have/be to do with somebody/something to be about something, be related to something, or be involved with something:

Their conversation had been largely to do with work.

I’m sorry about the accident, but it’s nothing to do with me (=I am not involved in any way) .

This question doesn’t have anything to do with the main topic of the survey.

I’m sure her problems have something to do with what happened when she was a child.

3 . what to do with yourself how to spend your time:

She didn’t know what to do with herself after she retired.

4 . what somebody should do with something/what to do with something etc used to ask or talk about how someone should deal with something:

What shall I do with these papers?

I wouldn’t know what to do with a newborn baby.

5 . what has somebody done with something? spoken used to ask where someone has put something:

What have you done with the remote for the TV?

6 . what is somebody doing with something? used to ask why someone has something:

What are you doing with my diary?

7 . I can’t be doing with something British English spoken used to say that you are annoyed by something and do not want to have to think about it:

I can’t be doing with all this right now.

do without phrasal verb

1 . do without (something) to live or do something without a particular thing:

I don’t have any sugar so you’ll have to do without.

You can do without a carpet but you’ve got to have somewhere to sit.

2 . can do without something used to say that something is annoying you or causing you problems:

You can do without all that hassle.

Those are the type of stupid remarks I can do without.

III. do 3 BrE AmE noun ( plural dos or do’s ) [countable]

[ Word Family: verb : ↑ do , ↑ outdo , ↑ overdo , ↑ redo , ↑ undo ; noun : ↑ deed ≠ ↑ misdeed , ↑ do , ↑ doing ; adjective : ↑ done , ↑ overdone , ↑ undone ]

1 . informal a party or other social event:

We’re having a do to celebrate his 30th birthday.

2 . dos and don’ts ( also do’s and don’ts ) things that you should and should not do in a particular situation:

The booklet lists the dos and don’ts of caring for dogs.

3 . American English informal a ↑ hairdo

• • •


▪ party a social event when a lot of people meet together to enjoy themselves by eating, drinking, dancing etc:

We’re having a party for Sarah’s 40th birthday.


I met my boyfriend at a party.

▪ get-together an informal party:

Christmas is the perfect time for a family get-together.

▪ ball a large formal party where people dance:

the end of term ball

▪ rave a large party which is held outside or in an empty building, where people dance to music and take illegal drugs

▪ reception a large formal party, especially one after a wedding or to welcome an important person:

The wedding reception is at a nearby hotel.


a reception for the Thai Foreign Minister


They attended a White House reception to mark the Queen’s visit.

▪ function a large formal or official party:

He has been asked to play at many corporate functions (=an official party held by a company) .

▪ celebration a party or special event that is organized in order to celebrate something:

the country’s 50th anniversary celebrations


It was a 21st birthday celebration which Mary would never forget.

▪ bash informal a party, especially a big one that a lot of famous people go to – used especially in journalism:

the star’s birthday bash


a picture of him at a Hollywood bash


a showbiz bash

▪ do British English informal a party:

We’re having a do to celebrate Margaret’s birthday.

▪ dinner party a party where people are invited to someone’s house for an evening meal:

I met him at a dinner party.

▪ house-warming (party) a party that you have when you move into a new house:

We’re having a house-warming next week.

▪ cocktail party ( also drinks party British English ) a party that people go to in order to talk and have a drink together for a few hours

▪ fancy-dress party British English , costume party American English a party where people dress in special clothes, for example to look like a famous person or a character in a story

▪ hen party especially British English a social event just before a wedding, for a woman who is getting married and her female friends

▪ stag night British English , bachelor party American English a social event just before a wedding, for a man who is getting married and his male friends

▪ baby/wedding shower American English an event at which people give presents to a woman who is going to have a baby or get married

IV. do 4 /dəʊ $ doʊ/ BrE AmE noun [singular, uncountable]

another spelling of doh

Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English.      Longman - Словарь современного английского языка.