beat

1 of 4

verb

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

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
2
a
: 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
4
a
: 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)
(2)
: to leave dispirited, irresolute, or hopeless
Years of failure had beaten him down.
e
: cheat, swindle
beat him out of his inheritance
5
a(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

1
a
: 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.
2
a(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
3
a
: 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
beatable adjective

beat

2 of 4

noun (1)

1
a
: 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
3
a
: 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
4
a
: 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
5
a
: one that excels
I've never seen the beat of it
b
journalism : the reporting of a news story ahead of competitors
6
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
beatless adjective

beat

3 of 4

adjective

1
a
: 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

beat

4 of 4

noun (2)

often capitalized
Phrases
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
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

Example Sentences

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, courant.com, 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
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 See More

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.

Word History

Etymology

Verb

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

Noun (1)

noun derivative of beat entry 1

Adjective

from past participle of beat entry 1

Noun (2)

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

First Known Use

Verb

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

Noun (1)

circa 1625, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Adjective

1800, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Noun (2)

1957, in the meaning defined above

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

Dictionary Entries Near beat

Cite this Entry

“Beat.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/beat. Accessed 30 Nov. 2022.

Kids Definition

beat 1 of 3

verb

beat; beaten ˈbēt-ᵊn How to pronounce beat (audio) or beat; beating
1
a
: to hit again and again
beat a drum
rain beating on the roof
often used with up
two bullies beat him up
b
: to flap against
wings beating the air
c
: to mix by stirring : whip
beat two eggs
2
a
: to drive or force by blows
beat off the intruder
b
: to make by walking or riding over
beat a path
c
: to shape by blows
beat gold into thin strips
3
: to cause to strike or flap repeatedly
birds beating their wings
4
a
: to win against : defeat
b
: baffle entry 1 sense 1
it beats me where they are
c
: surpass sense 1
can you beat that?
5
a
: to act ahead of
beat me to the punch
b
: to arrive before
beat us home
6
: to measure or mark off by strokes
beat time to the music
7
: to glare or strike harshly
the sun beats down
8
: pulsate, throb
the heart beating
beat about the bush or beat around the bush
: to fail to get to the point
beat a retreat
: to leave in haste
beat it
: to hurry away : scram
beat up on
: to attack physically or verbally
beat up on the candidate in campaign ads
beater noun

beat

2 of 3

noun

1
a
: a stroke or blow especially in a series
b
c
: a sound produced by or as if by beating
the beat of waves against the rock
2
a
: a rhythmic stress in poetry or music
b
: the tempo given to a musical performer
c
: rhythm sense 2
likes music with a Latin beat
3
: a place or area regularly visited in the course of work or duty
a police officer's beat
a reporter's beat

beat

3 of 3

adjective

1
: being tired out
2
: having lost one's morale

Medical Definition

beat; beaten ˈbēt-ᵊn How to pronounce beat (audio) or beat; beating

beat

2 of 2

noun

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

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