Language: Old English
Origin: beatan


1 verb
beat1 S2 W2 past tense beat, past participle beaten


[transitive] to get the most points, votes etc in a game, race, or competition [= defeat]:
Brazil were beaten, 2-1.
Labour easily beat the Conservatives in the last election.
beat somebody at/in something
I beat him more often at pool than he beats me.
beat somebody hollow British English /beat the pants off somebody American English (=defeat them easily)


[transitive] to hit someone or something many times with your hand, a stick etc:
photographs of rioters beating a policeman
He was questioned and beaten.
The woman had been beaten to death by her husband.
Two prisoners were beaten unconscious.
beat somebody black and blue (=hit someone until it makes marks on their body)

hit against

[intransitive always + adverb/preposition] to hit against something many times or continuously
beat on/against/at etc
Waves beat against the cliffs.
rain beating on the windows
Sid beat on the door with his hand.

do better

[transitive] to do something better, faster etc than what was best before
beat a record/score etc
The record set by Kierson in '84 has yet to be beaten.
The company's profits are unlikely to beat last year's £10 million.

be better

[transitive not in progressive] especially spoken to be much better and more enjoyable than something else:
Fresh milk beats powdered milk any time.
beat doing something
'Well,' said Culley, 'it beats going to the office.'
You can't beat swimming as a good all-body exercise.
Nothing beats homemade cake.
you can't beat something (for something)
For excitement, you just can't beat college basketball.


[intransitive and transitive] to mix things together quickly with a fork or special kitchen machine:
Beat the eggs, then add the milk.
beat something in
Gradually beat in the sugar.
beat something together
Beat the butter and sugar together until fluffy.

control/deal with

[transitive] to successfully deal with a problem that you have been struggling with [= conquer]:
advice on how to beat depression
the government's long fight to beat inflation


[intransitive]HBHM when your heart beats, it moves in a regular rhythm as it pumps your blood:
The average person's heart beats 70 times a minute.
Jennifer's heart was beating fast.


[intransitive and transitive]CAPM if you beat drums, or if drums beat, they make a regular continuous sound


[intransitive and transitive]HBB if a bird beats its wings, or if its wings beat, they move up and down quickly and regularly [= flap]

take some beating

if something or someone will take some beating, it will be difficult for anyone or anything to be or do better:
Schumacher has 42 points, which will take some beating.
Florida takes some beating as a vacation destination.


[transitive] to avoid situations in which a lot of people are trying to do something, usually by doing something early:
We left at four a.m. to beat the traffic.
Shopping by mail order lets you beat the queues.
Shop now and beat the Christmas rush!

do before somebody else

[transitive] informal to get or do something before someone else, especially if you are both trying to do it first
beat somebody to something
John had beaten me to the breakfast table.
I wanted the last piece of pie, but somebody beat me to it.
They wanted to make it into a film, but another studio beat them to the punch.

beat about/around the bush

to avoid or delay talking about something embarrassing or unpleasant:
Don't beat around the bush. Ask for your account to be paid, and paid quickly.

beat the system

to find ways of avoiding or breaking the rules of an organization, system etc, in order to achieve what you want:
Accountants know a few ways to beat the system.

beat a path (to somebody's door)

also beat down somebody's door if people beat a path to your door, they are interested in something you are selling, a service you are providing etc:
The new design was supposed to have consumers beating a path to their door.

beat a (hasty) retreat

to leave somewhere or stop doing something very quickly, in order to avoid a bad situation:
He beat a hasty retreat when he spotted me.

beat the clock

to finish something very quickly, especially before a particular time:
The company managed to beat the clock on delivering its new system.
19 spoken

(it) beats me

used to say that you do not know something or cannot understand or explain it:
Beats me why he wants such a big car.
'What's he saying?' 'Beats me.'
20 spoken

beat it!

used to tell someone to leave at once, because they are annoying you or should not be there
21 spoken

can you beat that/it?

used to show that you are surprised or annoyed by something:
They've got eight children! Can you beat that?
22 spoken

beat your brains out

to think about something very hard and for a long time:
I've been beating my brains out all week trying to finish this essay.
23 spoken

if you can't beat 'em, join 'em

used when you decide to take part in something even though you disapprove of it, because everyone else is doing it and you cannot stop them

beat the rap

American English informal to avoid being punished for something you have done

beat time

APM to make regular movements or sounds to show the speed at which music should be played:
a conductor beating time with his baton

beat a path/track

to make a path by walking over an area of land

to beat the band

American English informal in large amounts or with great force:
It's raining to beat the band.

beat the heat

American English informal to make yourself cooler:
Fresh lemonade is a great way to beat the heat.


also beat out [transitive]HCETI to hit metal with a hammer in order to shape it or make it thinner


[intransitive and transitive]DSO to force wild birds and animals out of bushes, long grass etc so that they can be shot for sport

beat your breast

literary to show clearly that you are very upset or sorry about something

beat down

phrasal verb
1 if the sun beats down, it shines very brightly and the weather is hot
2 if the rain beats down, it is raining very hard

beat the door down

to hit a door so hard that it falls down

beat somebody down

British English to persuade someone to reduce a price
beat somebody down to
He wanted £4500 for the car but I beat him down to £3850.

beat sb↔ down

to make someone feel defeated, so they no longer respect themselves:
The women seemed beaten down.

beat off

phrasal verb

beat somebody/sth↔ off

to succeed in defeating someone who is attacking, opposing, or competing with you:
McConnell beat off a challenge for his Senate seat.
2 American English informal not polite if a man beats off, he masturbates

beat somebody/something ↔ out

phrasal verb
1CAPM if a drum or something else beats out a rhythm, or if you beat out a rhythm on a drum, it makes a continuous regular sound
2 especially American English to defeat someone in a competition:
Lockheed beat out a rival company to win the contract.
beat somebody/something ↔ out for
Roberts beat out Tony Gwynn for the Most Valuable Player Award.
3 to put out a fire by hitting it many times with something such as a cloth

beat up

phrasal verb

beat sb↔ up

to hurt someone badly by hitting them:
Her boyfriend got drunk and beat her up.

beat up on somebody

American English to hit someone and harm them, especially someone younger or weaker than yourself

beat yourself up

also beat up on yourself American English informal to blame yourself too much for something:
If you do your best and you lose, you can't beat yourself up about it.

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