- a person who begs alms or lives by begging.
- a penniless person.
- a wretched fellow; rogue: the surly beggar who collects the rents.
- a child or youngster (usually preceded by little): a sudden urge to hug the little beggar.
verb (used with object)
- to reduce to utter poverty; impoverish: The family had been beggared by the war.
- to cause one’s resources of or ability for (description, comparison, etc.) to seem poor or inadequate: The costume beggars description.
- a person who begs, esp one who lives by begging
- a person who has no money or resources; pauper
- ironic, jocular, mainly British fellowlucky beggar!
- to be beyond the resources of (esp in the phrase to beggar description)
- to impoverish; reduce to begging
c.1200, from Old French begart, originally a member of the Beghards, lay brothers of mendicants in the Low Countries, from Middle Dutch beggaert “mendicant,” of uncertain origin, with pejorative suffix (see -ard). Cf. Beguine. Early folk etymology connected the English word with bag. Form with -ar attested from 14c., but begger was more usual 15c.-17c. The feminine form beggestere is attested as a surname from c.1300. Beggar’s velvet was an old name for “dust bunnies.” “Beggers should be no choosers” is in Heywood (1562).
“reduce to poverty,” mid-15c., from beggar (n.). Related: Beggared; beggaring. Figurative use by 1640s.