\ ˈbēt How to pronounce beat (audio) \
beat; beaten\ ˈbē-​tᵊn How to pronounce beat (audio) \ or beat; beating; beats

Essential Meaning of beat

1 : to hit (something) repeatedly He beat the door with his fists. = He beat his fists against/on the door. He beat the dusty rug with a stick. = He beat a stick against the dusty rug. See More ExamplesHe beat the dust out of the rug with a stick. She used a hammer to beat the metal into shape. She used a hammer to beat the nail into the wall. The dented metal was beaten flat. The waves were beating the shore. He beat at/against/on the door with his fists. The waves were beating on/against the shore. The rain beat on the roof.Hide
2 : to hit (someone) repeatedly in order to cause pain or injury They beat him with clubs. He was beaten badly/savagely/brutally. See More Examplesa man accused of beating his wife They beat him to the ground. [=they hit him repeatedly and he fell to the ground] They threatened to beat the (living) daylights out of him. [=to beat him very badly] He was beaten to death.Hide
3 : to hit (a drum) repeatedly in order to produce music or a signal The drummer kept beating his drum. the sound of a beaten drum See More ExamplesThey beat (out) a message on their drums. The drum kept beating (out) its rhythm. The drummer kept beating. The drum kept beating. the sound of a beating drumHide

Full Definition of beat

 (Entry 1 of 4)

transitive verb

1 : to strike repeatedly:
a : to hit repeatedly so as to inflict pain Inmates were put in solitary for beating other inmates. often used with up … brutes who beat up their victims without compunction …— J. H. Plumb
b : to walk on : tread beat the pavement looking for work
c : to strike directly against forcefully and repeatedly : dash against waves beating the shore beat the door with her fists
d : to flap or thrash at vigorously a trapped bird beating the air
e hunting : to strike at in order to rouse game beating a hedgerow also : to range over in or as if in quest of game beat the woods and rouse the bounding prey … — Matthew Prior
f : to mix by stirring : whip beat the eggs often used with up
g : to strike repeatedly in order to produce music or a signal beat a drum
2a : to drive or force by blows beat back his attackers
b : to pound into a powder, paste, or pulp
c : to make by repeated treading or driving over beat a path through the woods
d(1) : to dislodge by repeated hitting beat dust from the carpet
(2) : to lodge securely by repeated striking beat a stake into the ground
e : to shape by beating beat swords into plowshares especially : to flatten thin by blows
f : to sound or express especially by drumbeat beating out a rhythm on the conga
3 : to cause to strike or flap repeatedly a bird beating its wings
4a : overcome, defeat beat the insurgents in a bloody battle beating your opponent in chess They beat us 14 to 3. also : surpass She beat the old record by three seconds. often used with out Someone else beat her out for the job.
b : to prevail despite beat the odds
c : bewilder, baffle it beats me how she does it
d(1) : fatigue, exhaust
(2) : to leave dispirited, irresolute, or hopeless Years of failure had beaten him down.
e : cheat, swindle beat him out of his inheritance
5a(1) : to act ahead of usually so as to forestall I was going to make the suggestion, but she beat me to it.
(2) journalism : to report a news item in advance of beat the other networks
b : to come or arrive before I beat him to the finish line.
c : circumvent beat the system
d sports : to outmaneuver (a defender) and get free The player attempts to beat the defender and score.
e sports : to score against (a goalkeeper)
6 : to produce (music or a signal) by striking something repeatedly : to indicate by beating beat the tempo

intransitive verb

1a : to become forcefully propelled forward : dash waves beating against the shore
b : to glare or strike with oppressive intensity The sun beat down on us.
c : to sustain distracting activity … the turbulence of the Renaissance … beating about his head …— Douglas Stewart
d : to strike a drum repeatedly : to beat a drum The drummers kept beating.
2a(1) : pulsate, throb Her heart beat wildly.
(2) : tick the beating of a clock
b : to sound upon being struck the sound of a beating drum
3a : to strike repeated blows beating on the door … their air attack still beating upon us …— Sir Winston Churchill
b : to strike the air : flap The bird's wings beat frantically.
c hunting : to strike bushes or other cover in order to rouse game also : to range or scour for or as if for game
4 : to progress with much difficulty
5 nautical : to sail to windward by a series of zigzag movements beating along the coast
beat about the bush or beat around the bush
: to fail or refuse to come to the point in discourse Stop beating around the bush and tell me what you want.
beat a retreat
: to leave in haste
beat it
1 : to hurry away : scram
2 : hurry, rush
beat one's brains out
: to try intently to resolve something difficult by thinking I beat my brains out trying to figure it out.
beat the bushes
: to search thoroughly through all possible areas
beat the drum
: to proclaim as meritorious or significant : publicize vigorously beating the drum for their candidate
beat the pants off
: to defeat or surpass overwhelmingly We vowed to beat the pants off them next time.
beat the rap
: to escape or evade the penalties connected with an accusation or charge
beat up on
: to attack physically or verbally She was getting beat up on by her critics.
to beat the band
: in a very energetic or forceful manner talking away to beat the band


noun (1)

Definition of beat (Entry 2 of 4)

1a : a single stroke or blow especially in a series a single beat on a drum also : pulsation, tick
b : a sound produced by or as if by beating (see beat entry 1) dance to the beat of the drums listening to the beat of his heart
c : a driving impact or force … the full force of the surf beat— Joyce Allan … the fierce beat of the eastern sun.— T. B. Costain
2 : one swing of the pendulum or balance (see balance entry 1 sense 9) of a timepiece
3a : a regularly traversed round (see round entry 3 sense 6a) a cop patrolling her beat
b journalism : a group of news sources that a reporter covers regularly a reporter on the beat
4a : a metrical or rhythmic stress in poetry or music or the rhythmic effect of these stresses four beats per bar keeping a steady beat
b music : the tempo indicated (as by a conductor) to a musical performer
c music : the pronounced rhythm (see rhythm sense 2b) that is the characteristic driving force in some types of music (such as jazz or rock) music with a Latin beat also : rock entry 2 sense 2
5a : one that excels I've never seen the beat of it
b journalism : the reporting of a news story ahead of competitors
6 : deadbeat
7 nautical
a : an act of sailing toward the side or direction from which the wind is blowing by a series of zigzag movements : an act of beating (see beat entry 1 sense intransitive 5) to windward
b : one of the reaches (see reach entry 2 sense 1) in the zigzag course so traversed : tack
8 physics : each of the pulsations of amplitude (see amplitude sense 1a) produced by the union of sound or radio waves or electric currents having different frequencies
9 dance : an accented stroke (as of one leg or foot against the other)
10 : moment waited a beat before responding
miss a beat
chiefly US : to have difficulty in continuing : to stop or hesitate briefly often used in negative constructions A few minutes later, the power cuts out …, but Achmed doesn't miss a beat; clearly, he's used to this.— Eric Weiner



Definition of beat (Entry 3 of 4)

1a : being in a state of exhaustion : exhausted Sometimes I'd be so beat that I'd flop down and go to sleep fully dressed.— Polly Adler
b : sapped of resolution or morale
2 often capitalized [earliest in beat generation; perhaps in part by association with beat entry 2 in sense "pronounced rhythm" or -beat in deadbeat entry 1] : of, relating to, or being beatniks beat poets


noun (2), often capitalized

Definition of beat (Entry 4 of 4)

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Other Words from beat


beatable \ ˈbē-​tə-​bəl How to pronounce beat (audio) \ adjective

Noun (1)

beatless \ ˈbēt-​ləs How to pronounce beat (audio) \ adjective

Examples of beat in a Sentence

Verb He beat the dust out of the rug with a stick. She used a hammer to beat the metal into shape. She used a hammer to beat the nail into the wall. The dented metal was beaten flat. The waves were beating the shore. He beat at the door with his fists. The waves were beating on the shore. The rain beat on the roof. They beat him with clubs. a man accused of beating his wife Adjective Let me sit down. I'm absolutely beat! can we pick this up tomorrow, because I'm beat?
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Most recently, reporter Volodymyr Volovodyuk, who had investigated black-market trading in the central Vinnytsia region, was beaten to death June 12. Dmytro Vlasov, The Seattle Times, 20 July 2017 The Sun are one of the league's best teams, with one of its most exciting young cores, and beating the Stars was something most everyone expected them to do. John Altavilla,, 16 July 2017 Saturday's attendance beat out Louisville City's previous season-high of 9,074 fans reached against Tampa Bay in April. Danielle Lerner, The Courier-Journal, 15 July 2017 Freed was able to spring to her feet and just beat the runner to third for the final out of the game. Jeff Tully, Burbank Leader, 13 July 2017 Mr Putin was defiant over the outcome of the Magnitsky case, in which a lawyer who was beaten to death in prison was posthumously charged with tax fraud. The Economist, 13 July 2017 There are special awards to male and female runners who beat the farmer. Johnny Gorches, Post-Tribune, 12 July 2017 The C-17 is probably the largest military airplane to have gone through the loop: the Airbus A400M Atlas transport beat it by six months, but the C-17 is nearly thirty feet longer. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, 11 July 2017 NPR reported that at least 10 people participated in beating Bakari in a brawl outside the Greece bar, and now eight of them have been arrested and two charged with murder. Brittney Mcnamara, Teen Vogue, 11 July 2017 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Lounge mode offers an LCD-like screen on the ceiling that can show images while music plays on a multispeaker audio system and LED lights on the floor pulsate and flash to the beat. Chester Dawson, WSJ, 19 June 2017 Hawks beat Huskies North Harford (4-13) beat visiting Patterson Mill, 16-6, Thursday in non-division play. Randy Mcroberts, The Aegis, 8 May 2017 Beat eggs with a fork, then stir all ingredients to combine (the mixture will be thick, like a wet ball of sand—don't worry). Redbook, 6 Apr. 2017 Much like music created by human drummers, the cockatoos’ beats remain consistent over time and are individually recognizable. Andrew Wagner, Science | AAAS, 28 June 2017 Photo transitions happen on the beat, to give it a bit more pop. Mark Hachman, PCWorld, 15 May 2017 Rainbow flags decorated the chapel, while the pastors, who had flown in from Brazil, Canada and the United States, wore stoles in the trans hues of light blue, pink and white and the congregation swayed to Caribbean beats. NBC News, 7 May 2017 Beat in ½ cup sugar gradually, beating until peaks become more stiff. Michelle Stark, Tampa Bay Times, 21 Feb. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'beat.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of beat


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

Noun (1)

circa 1625, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1800, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Noun (2)

1957, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for beat


Middle English beten, from Old English bēatan; akin to Old High German bōzan to beat

Noun (1)

noun derivative of beat entry 1


from past participle of beat entry 1

Noun (2)

from beat entry 3 in beat generation, or by shortening of beatnik

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Time Traveler for beat

Time Traveler

The first known use of beat was before the 12th century

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Dictionary Entries Near beat

beast tale



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Cite this Entry

“Beat.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Sep. 2021.

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More Definitions for beat


\ ˈbēt How to pronounce beat (audio) \
beat; beaten\ ˈbē-​tᵊn \ or beat; beating

Kids Definition of beat

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1 : to hit or strike again and again beat a drum waves beating the shore
2 : to hit repeatedly in order to cause pain or injury They beat him with sticks. often used with up Little Dusty froze as the older boys quarreled. He knew Johnny could beat up Dove any time he chose.— Esther Forbes, Johnny Tremain
3 : to mix by stirring rapidly beat eggs
4 : to win against : defeat beat the enemy
5 : to come, arrive, or act before I beat him to the finish line.
6 : throb entry 1 sense 3, pulsate Her heart was still beating.
7 : to flap against wings beating the air
8 : to move with an up and down motion : flap The bird beat its wings.
9 : to do or be better than You can't beat that for fun.
10 : to be beyond the understanding of It beats me how she does it.
11 : to make by walking or riding over beat a path
beat it
: to go away quickly

Other Words from beat

beater noun



Kids Definition of beat (Entry 2 of 3)

1 : a blow or a stroke made again and again
2 : a single pulse (as of the heart)
3 : a sound produced by or as if by beating the beat of drums the beat of waves against the rock
4 : a measurement of time in music : an accent or regular pattern of accents in music or poetry
5 : an area or place regularly visited or traveled through as part of a job a police officer's beat



Kids Definition of beat (Entry 3 of 3)

: very tired


intransitive verb
\ ˈbēt How to pronounce beat (audio) \
beat; beaten\ ˈbēt-​ᵊn How to pronounce beat (audio) \ or beat; beating

Medical Definition of beat

 (Entry 1 of 2)



Medical Definition of beat (Entry 2 of 2)

: a single stroke or pulsation (as of the heart) ectopic beats — see extrasystole

More from Merriam-Webster on beat

Nglish: Translation of beat for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of beat for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about beat


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