verb (used with object), beat, beat·en or beat, beat·ing.

  1. to strike violently or forcefully and repeatedly.
  2. to dash against: rain beating the trees.
  3. to flutter, flap, or rotate in or against: beating the air with its wings.
  4. to sound, as on a drum: beating a steady rhythm; to beat a tattoo.
  5. to stir vigorously: Beat the egg whites well.
  6. to break, forge, or make by blows: to beat their swords into plowshares.
  7. to produce (an attitude, idea, habit, etc.) by repeated efforts: I’ll beat some sense into him.
  8. to make (a path) by repeated treading.
  9. to strike (a person or animal) repeatedly and injuriously: Some of the hoodlums beat their victims viciously before robbing them.
  10. Music. to mark (time) by strokes, as with the hand or a metronome.
  11. Hunting. to scour (the forest, grass, or brush), and sometimes make noise, in order to rouse game.
  12. to overcome in a contest; defeat.
  13. to win over in a race: We beat the English challenger to Bermuda.
  14. to be superior to: Making reservations beats waiting in line.
  15. to be incomprehensible to; baffle: It beats me how he got the job.
  16. to defeat or frustrate (a person), as a problem to be solved: It beats me how to get her to understand.
  17. to mitigate or offset the effects of: beating the hot weather; trying to beat the sudden decrease in land values.
  18. Slang. to swindle; cheat (often followed by out): He beat him out of hundreds of dollars on that deal.
  19. to escape or avoid (blame or punishment).
  20. Textiles. to strike (the loose pick) into its proper place in the woven cloth by beating the loosely deposited filling yarn with the reed.

verb (used without object), beat, beat·en or beat, beat·ing.

  1. to strike repeated blows; pound.
  2. to throb or pulsate: His heart began to beat faster.
  3. to dash; strike (usually followed by against or on): rain beating against the windows.
  4. to resound under blows, as a drum.
  5. to achieve victory in a contest; win: Which team do you think will beat?
  6. to play, as on a drum.
  7. to scour cover for game.
  8. Physics. to make a beat or beats.
  9. (of a cooking ingredient) to foam or stiffen as a result of beating or whipping: This cream won’t beat.
  10. Nautical. to tack to windward by sailing close-hauled.


  1. a stroke or blow.
  2. the sound made by one or more such blows: the beat of drums.
  3. a throb or pulsation: a pulse of 60 beats per minute.
  4. the ticking sound made by a clock or watch escapement.
  5. one’s assigned or regular path or habitual round: a policeman’s beat.
  6. Music.
    1. the audible, visual, or mental marking of the metrical divisions of music.
    2. a stroke of the hand, baton, etc., marking the time division or an accent for music during performance.
  7. Theater. a momentary time unit imagined by an actor in timing actions: Wait four beats and then pick up the phone.
  8. Prosody. the accent stress, or ictus, in a foot or rhythmical unit of poetry.
  9. Physics. a pulsation caused by the coincidence of the amplitudes of two oscillations of unequal frequencies, having a frequency equal to the difference between the frequencies of the two oscillations.
  10. Journalism.
    1. the reporting of a piece of news in advance, especially before it is reported by a rival or rivals.Compare exclusive(def 13), scoop(def 9).
    2. Also called newsbeat, run.the particular news source or activity that a reporter is responsible for covering.
  11. a subdivision of a county, as in Mississippi.
  12. (often initial capital letter) Informal. beatnik.


  1. Informal. exhausted; worn out.
  2. (often initial capital letter) of or characteristic of members of the Beat Generation or beatniks.

Verb Phrases

  1. beat about,
    1. to search through; scour: After beating about for several hours, he turned up the missing papers.
    2. Nautical.to tack into the wind.
  2. beat back, to force back; compel to withdraw: to beat back an attacker.
  3. beat down,
    1. to bring into subjection; subdue.
    2. Informal.to persuade (a seller) to lower the price of something: His first price was too high, so we tried to beat him down.
  4. beat off,
    1. to ward off; repulse: We had to beat off clouds of mosquitoes.
    2. Slang: Vulgar.to masturbate.
  5. beat out,
    1. Informal.to defeat; win or be chosen over: to beat out the competition.
    2. Carpentry.to cut (a mortise).
    3. to produce hurriedly, especially by writing or typing: There are three days left to beat out the first draft of the novel.
    4. Baseball.(of a hitter) to make (an infield ground ball or bunt) into a hit: He beat out a weak grounder to third.
  6. beat up,
    1. Also beat up on.to strike repeatedly so as to cause painful injury; thrash: A gang of toughs beat him up on the way home from school. In the third round the champion really began to beat up on the challenger.
    2. British Informal.to find or gather; scare up: I’ll beat up some lunch for us while you make out the shopping list.


  1. beat all, Informal. to surpass anything of a similar nature, especially in an astonishing or outrageous way: The way he came in here and ordered us around beats all!
  2. beat a retreat. retreat(def 12).
  3. beat around/about the bush. bush1(def 16).
  4. beat it, Informal. to depart; go away: He was pestering me, so I told him to beat it.
  5. beat the air/wind, to make repeated futile attempts.
  6. beat the rap. rap1(def 17).
  7. off one’s beat, outside of one’s routine, general knowledge, or range of experience: He protested that nonobjective art was off his beat.
  8. on the beat, in the correct rhythm or tempo: By the end of the number they were all finally playing on the beat.

verb beats, beating, beat, beaten or beat

  1. (when intr, often foll by against, on , etc) to strike with or as if with a series of violent blows; dash or pound repeatedly (against)
  2. (tr) to punish by striking; flog
  3. to move or cause to move up and down; flapthe bird beat its wings heavily
  4. (intr) to throb rhythmically; pulsateher heart beat fast
  5. (tr) to make (one’s way) by or as if by blowsshe beat her way out of the crowd
  6. (tr sometimes foll by up) cookery to stir or whisk (an ingredient or mixture) vigorously
  7. (tr sometimes foll by out) to shape, make thin, or flatten (a piece of metal) by repeated blows
  8. (tr) music to indicate (time) by the motion of one’s hand, baton, etc, or by the action of a metronome
  9. (when tr , sometimes foll by out) to produce (a sound or signal) by or as if by striking a drum
  10. to sound or cause to sound, by or as if by beatingbeat the drums!
  11. to overcome (an opponent) in a contest, battle, etc
  12. (tr ; often foll by back, down, off etc) to drive, push, or thrust
  13. (tr) to arrive or finish before (someone or something); anticipate or forestallthey set off early to beat the rush hour
  14. (tr) to form (a path or track) by repeatedly walking or riding over it
  15. to scour (woodlands, coverts, or undergrowth) so as to rouse game for shooting
  16. (tr) slang to puzzle or baffleit beats me how he can do that
  17. (intr) physics (of sounds or electrical signals) to combine and produce a pulsating sound or signal
  18. (intr) nautical to steer a sailing vessel as close as possible to the direction from which the wind is blowing
  19. (tr) slang, mainly US to cheat or defraudhe beat his brother out of the inheritance
  20. beat about the bush to avoid the point at issue; prevaricate
  21. beat a retreat to withdraw or depart in haste
  22. beat it slang (often imperative) to go away
  23. beat one’s breast See breast (def. 10)
  24. beat someone’s brains out slang to kill by knocking severely about the head
  25. beat someone to it informal to reach a place or achieve an objective before someone else
  26. beat the bounds British (formerly) to define the boundaries of a parish by making a procession around them and hitting the ground with rods
  27. can you beat it? or can you beat that? slang an expression of utter amazement or surprise


  1. a stroke or blow
  2. the sound made by a stroke or blow
  3. a regular sound or stroke; throb
    1. an assigned or habitual round or route, as of a policeman or sentry
    2. (as modifier)beat police officers
  4. the basic rhythmic unit in a piece of music, usually grouped in twos, threes, or fours
    1. pop or rock music characterized by a heavy rhythmic beat
    2. (as modifier)a beat group
  5. physics the low regular frequency produced by combining two sounds or electrical signals that have similar frequencies
  6. horology the impulse given to the balance wheel by the action of the escapement
  7. prosody the accent, stress, or ictus in a metrical foot
  8. nautical a course that steers a sailing vessel as close as possible to the direction from which the wind is blowing
    1. the act of scouring for game by beating
    2. the organized scouring of a particular woodland so as to rouse the game in it
    3. the woodland where game is so roused
  9. short for beatnik
  10. fencing a sharp tap with one’s blade on an opponent’s blade to deflect it
  11. (modifier, often capital) of, characterized by, or relating to the Beat Generationa beat poet; beat philosophy


  1. (postpositive) slang totally exhausted

n.c.1300, “a beating, whipping; the beating of a drum,” from beat (v.). As “throb of the heart” from 1755. Meaning “regular route travelled by someone” is attested from 1731, also “a track made by animals” (1736), from the sense of the “beat” of the feet on the ground (late Old English), or perhaps that in beat the bushes to flush game (c.1400), or beat the bounds (1560s). Extended to journalism by 1875. Musical sense is by 1842, perhaps from the motion of the conductor and the notion of “beating the time”: It is usual, in beating the time of a piece of music, to mark or signalize the commencement of every measure by a downward movement or beat of the hand, or of any other article that may be used for the purpose …. [“Godfrey Weber’s General Music Teacher,” 1842] Earlier in music it meant a sort of grace note: BEAT, in music, a transient grace note, struck immediately before the note it is intended to ornament. The beat always lies half a note beneath its principal, and should be heard so closely upon it, that they may almost seem to be struck together. [“The British Encyclopedia,” London, 1809] adj.“defeated, overcome by effort,” c.1400, from past tense of beat (v.). Meaning “tired, exhausted,” is by 1905, American English. v.Old English beatan “inflict blows on, thrash” (class VII strong verb; past tense beot, past participle beaten), from Proto-Germanic *bautan (cf. Old Norse bauta, Old High German bozan “to beat”), from PIE root *bhau- “to strike” (see batter (v.)). Of the heart, c.1200, from notion of it striking against the breast. Meaning “to overcome in a contest” is from 1610s (the source of the sense of “legally avoid, escape” in beat the charges, etc., attested from c.1920 in underworld slang). Past tense beat is from c.1500, probably not from Old English but a shortening of Middle English beted. Dead-beat (originally “tired-out”) preserves the old past participle. Meaning “strike cover to rouse or drive game” (c.1400) is source of beat around the bush (1570s), the metaphoric sense of which has shifted from “make preliminary motions” to “avoid, evade.” Command beat it “go away” first recorded 1906 (though “action of feet upon the ground” was a sense of Old English betan). To beat off “masturbate” is recorded by 1960s. For beat generation see beatnik. v.

  1. To strike repeatedly.
  2. To pulsate; throb.


  1. A stroke, impulse, or pulsation, especially one that produces a sound as of the heart or pulse.

  1. A fluctuation or pulsation, usually repeated, in the amplitude of a signal. Beats are generally produced by the superposition of two waves of different frequencies; if the signals are audible, this results in fluctuations between louder and quieter sound.

In addition to the idioms beginning with beat

  • beat a dead horse
  • beat all
  • beat a path to someone’s door
  • beat a retreat
  • beat around the bush
  • beat back
  • beat down
  • beaten track
  • beat hollow
  • beat into one’s head
  • beat it
  • beat off
  • beat one’s brains out
  • beat one’s head against the wall
  • beat out
  • beats me
  • beat someone at his or her own game
  • beat the air
  • beat the band
  • beat the bushes for
  • beat the clock
  • beat the drum for
  • beat the Dutch
  • beat the living daylights out of
  • beat the meat
  • beat the pants off
  • beat the rap
  • beat time
  • beat to it
  • beat up
  • also see:

  • dead beat
  • heart misses a beat
  • if you can’t beat them, join them
  • march to a different beat
  • miss a beat
  • off the beaten track
  • pound the pavement (a beat)
  • to beat the band
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