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beat someone up
to harm or subdue a person by striking him. The robber beat me up and took my money. I really wanted to beat up that intruder.
beat something up
1. to whip up something, such as an egg. Beat the egg up and pour it in the skillet. Beat up another egg and do the same.
2. to ruin something; to damage something. The banging of the door has really beat this wall up. The frequent pounding of the door handle beat up the wall.
beat somebody upalso beat up somebody
1. to strongly criticize someone The candidates spent the time beating each other up instead of talking about how to improve the economy.
Usage notes: sometimes used in the form beat up on someone: Sanchez beat up on Brown for problems with street repairs.
2. to easily defeat someone The Rangers beat up Kansas city, 7-3.
Etymology: based on the literal meaning of beat someone up (to hurt someone badly)
1. Strike repeatedly, as in She told the police her husband had beaten her up. [Slang; first half of 1900s]
2. Also, beat up on. Attack verbally, as in That newspaper article really beat up on the town council. [Slang; late 1900s]
mod. visibly worn; shabby. (This is hyphenated before a nominal.) Get your beat-up car painted or something!