Definition of beat verb from the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary



beat, beaten

in game

1 [transitive] beat someone (at something) to defeat someone in a game or competitionHe beat me at chess.Their recent wins have proved they're still the ones to beat (= the most difficult team to beat).


2 [transitive] beat something to get control of something synonym defeatThe government's main aim is to beat inflation.

be too difficult

3 [transitive] to be too difficult for someone synonym defeat beat someonea problem that beats even the experts beat someone why, how, etc.…It beats me (= I don't know) why he did it.What beats me is how it was done so quickly (= I don't understand how).

be better

4 [transitive] beat something to do or be better than somethingNothing beats home cooking.You can't beat Italian shoes.They want to beat the speed record (= go faster than anyone before).


5 [transitive] beat something to avoid somethingIf we go early, we should beat the traffic.We were up and off early to beat the heat.


6 [intransitive, transitive] to hit someone or something many times, usually very hard + adverb/prepositionSomebody was beating at the door.Hailstones beat against the window. beat somethingSomeone was beating a drum. beat something + adverb/prepositionShe was beating dust out of the carpet (= removing dust from the carpet by beating it). beat someoneAt that time children were regularly beaten for minor offenses (= a punishment). beat someone + adverb/prepositionAn elderly man was found beaten to death.The prisoners were beaten into submission (= they were beaten until they did what was wanted). beat someone + adjectiveThey beat him unconscious (= hit him until he became unconscious).

of heart/drums/wings

7 [intransitive, transitive] to make, or cause something to make, a regular sound or movementShe's alive—her heart is still beating.We heard the drums beating.The bird was beating its wings (= moving them up and down) frantically.


8 [transitive] to mix something with short, quick movements with a fork, etc. beat something (up)Beat the eggs up to a frothy consistency. beat A and B togetherBeat the flour and milk together.

shape metal

9 [transitive] to change the shape of something, especially metal, by hitting it with a hammer, etc. beat something (out) (into something)beaten silverThe gold is beaten out into thin strips. beat something + adjectiveThe metal had been beaten flat.

make path

10 [transitive] beat something (through, across, along, etc. something) to make a path, etc. by walking somewhere, or by pressing branches down and walking over thema well-beaten track (= one that has been worn hard by much use)The hunters beat a path through the undergrowth.

beat around the bush

to talk about something for a long time without coming to the main point
Stop beating about the bush and tell me what you want.beat around the bush

beat someone at their own game

to defeat or do better than someone in an activity which they have chosen or in which they think they are strong
beat at their own game

beat your brains out

(informal) to think very hard about something for a long timeI've been beating my brains out all weekend to get this script written.beat your brains out

beat your breast

to show that you feel sorry about something that you have done, especially in public and in an exaggerated way
beat your breast

beat the clock

to finish a task, race, etc. before a particular time
beat the clock

beat/knock the (living) daylights out of someone

(informal) to hit someone very hard several times and hurt them very muchGet out or I'll beat the living daylights out of you!beat the daylights out ofbeat the living daylights out ofknock the daylights out ofknock the living daylights out of

beat/flog a dead horse

(informal) to waste your effort by trying to do something that is no longer possiblebeat a dead horseflog a dead horse

beat/bang the drum (for someone/something)

to speak with enthusiasm in support of someone or something
She's really banging the drum for the new system.beat the drumbeat the drum forbang the drumbang the drum for

beat/kick (the) hell out of someone/something


knock hell out of someone/something

(informal) to hit someone or something very hardHe was a dirty player and loved to kick hell out of the opposition.beat hell out ofbeat the hell out ofkick hell out ofkick the hell out of

beat it

(slang) (usually used in orders) to go away immediatelyThis is private land, so beat it!beat it

beat a path to someone's door

if a lot of people beat a path to someone's door, they are all interested in something that person has to sell, or can do or tell them
Top theatrical agents are beating a path to the teenager's door.beat a path to door

beat the rap

(slang) to escape without being punishedbeat the rap

beat a (hasty) retreat

to go away or back quickly, especially to avoid something unpleasant
beat a retreatbeat a hasty retreat

beat time (to something)

to mark or follow the rhythm of music, by waving a stick, tapping your foot, etc.
She beat time with her fingers.beat timebeat time to

beat someone to the punch

(informal) to get or do something before someone else canbeat to the punch

(beat someone) black and blue

(to hit someone until they are) covered with bruises (= blue, brown, or purple marks on the body)
black and bluebeat black and blue

can you beat that/it!

(informal) used to express surprise or angercan you beat that!can you beat it!

if you can't beat them, join them

(saying) if you cannot defeat someone or be as successful as they are, then it is more sensible to join them in what they are doing and perhaps get some advantage for yourself by doing soif you can't beat them, join them

off the beaten track

far away from other people, houses, etc.
They live miles off the beaten the beaten track

a rod/stick to beat someone with

a fact, an argument, etc. that is used in order to blame or punish someone
a rod to beat witha stick to beat with

take some beating

to be difficult to beat
That score is going to take some beating.For sheer luxury, this hotel takes some beating.take some beating

beat somethingdown

to hit a door, etc. many times until it breaks openbeat down

beat down (on someone/something)

if the sun beats down, it shines with great heatThe sun beat down on the desert sand.beat downbeat down on

beat someone/something down (to something)

to persuade someone to reduce the price at which they are selling somethingHe wanted $8,000 for the car but I beat him down to $6,000.I beat down the price to $6,000.beat downbeat down to

beat someone/somethingoff

to force someone or something back or away by fightingThe attacker was beaten off.She beat off a challenge to her leadership.beat off

beat on someone

= beat up on someonebeat on

beat somethingout

1 to produce a rhythm by hitting something many times2 to put a fire out by beatingWe beat the flames out.3 to remove something by hitting it with a hammer, etc.They can beat out the dent in the car's fender.beat out

beat something out of someone

to hit someone until they tell you what you want to knowbeat out of

beat someone out of something

(informal) to cheat someone by taking something from themHer brother beat her out of $200.beat out of

beat someone to something


beat someone to it

to get somewhere or do something before someone elseShe beat me to the top of the hill.I was about to take the last cookie, but he beat me to it.beat to

beat someoneup

to hit or kick someone hard, many timesHe was badly beaten up by a gang of thugs.beat up

beat up on someone

(also beat on someone) to blame someone too much for somethingDon't beat up on Paul—he tried his best.beat up on

beat yourself up (about/over something)

(also beat up on yourself (about/over something))(informal) to blame yourself too much for somethingLook, there's no need to beat yourself up over this.beat yourself upbeat yourself up aboutbeat yourself upbeat yourself up over
Usage noteUsage note: beatbatter pound lash hammerThese words all mean to hit someone or something many times, especially hard.beat to hit someone or something many times, especially very hard: Someone was beating at the door. A young man was found beaten to death last night. At that time, children were often beaten for quite minor offenses (= as a punishment).batter to hit someone or something hard many times, especially in a way that causes serious damage: He was badly battered about the head and face. Severe winds are battering the coast.pound to hit someone or something hard many times, especially in a way that makes a lot of noise: Heavy rain pounded on the roof. She pounded on the table with her fist.lash to hit someone or something with great force: The rain lashed at the window.note The subject of lash is often rain, wind, hail, sea, or waves.hammer to hit someone or something hard many times, in a way that is noisy or violent: He hammered at the lock, but it would not open. (figurative) She hammered him with difficult questions.pound or hammer?There is not much difference in meaning between these two, but to pound is sometimes a steadier action. To hammer can be more violent and it is often used figuratively.patternsto beat/batter/pound/lash/hammer someone/something with somethingto beat/batter/pound/lash/hammer against somethingto beat/batter/pound/hammer on somethingto beat/batter/hammer something downthe rain/wind/sea beats/batters/pounds/lashes (at) something