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be still my beating heart
An exclamation that something is too exciting or overwhelming for one to bear; literally, that it is causing one's heart to beat too fast. In modern usage, it is almost always used sarcastically to imply that something is actually mundane, uninteresting, or unappealing. Usually shortened to "be still my heart." You want me to go shopping with you? Oh, be still, my beating heart! No, thank you. He said the majority of the work I'd be doing for him would entail—be still, my beating heart—copying text from one source to another.
1. obsolete To be beyond the bounds of imagination or belief, as of a surprising, shocking, or amazing occurrence. Primarily heard in Ireland. The dog figured out how to open the latch on the fence, and the cows took off after him! This beats Banaghan, to be sure.
2. obsolete To tell amazing, imaginative stories. Primarily heard in Ireland. That auld fellow looks to be a sailor type; sure, he's been beating Banaghan to us all evening long.
1. obsolete To be beyond the bounds of imagination or belief, as of a surprising, shocking, or amazing occurrence. Primarily heard in Ireland. The dog figured out how to open the latch on the fence, and the cows took off after him! This beats Banagher, to be sure.
2. obsolete To tells amazing, imaginative stories. Primarily heard in Ireland. That auld fellow looks to be a sailor type; sure, he's been beating Banagher to us all evening long.
beat a dead horse
To continue to focus on something—especially an issue or topic—that is no longer of any use or relevance. We've all moved on from that problem, so there's no use beating a dead horse.
beat a (hasty) retreat
To leave a place or situation quickly. I beat a hasty retreat when I saw my ex-boyfriend walk into the party. When the rain started, everyone on the field beat a retreat indoors.
beat (about/around) the bush
To speak vaguely or euphemistically so as to avoid talking directly about an unpleasant or sensitive topic. Don't beat around the bush—just tell me the truth. Why are you beating around the bush? Are you leaving our company?
To attempt to strike a person or thing. I beat at that bug with a broom, but I was too scared to get close enough to actually hit it.
To force a person or thing to retreat. How are we going to beat back the approaching troops? Beating back feelings of fear has allowed me to follow my dreams.
beat (one's) brains out
1. To put forth one's maximum effort. I've been beating my brains out trying to get a passing grade this semester, so failing by two measly points is incredibly frustrating. Don't beat your brains out trying to please these people—they'll never appreciate it.
2. To violently attack someone, physically or verbally. I'm worried that the captain of the football team will beat my brains out if he finds out that I'm secretly seeing his girlfriend. As if I didn't feel bad enough after losing the case, my boss beat my brains out for it once I got back to the office.
1. To exhaust or discourage someone. In this usage, a person's name or pronoun is used between "beat" and "down." The long winters here just beat me down. I miss the warmth of the sun! I think working three jobs has finally beaten Alicia down—all she does these days is come home and sleep.
2. To strike someone or something repeatedly. That bully is always beating down on the smaller kids in our class. Just yesterday, he gave Joey a bloody nose. The rain has been beating down on our roof for hours, and I'm starting to worry that we'll have a leak.
3. To strike something so violently as to cause its collapse. In this usage, a noun can be used between "beat" and "down." I'm coming! Geez, you're going to beat the door down!
4. To strike something repeatedly in order to flatten it. That chicken needs to be thinner before we add the bread crumbs, so beat down on it some more.
beat (someone) down to size
To humble someone. The phrase can be used for both verbal and physical confrontations. Someone needs to beat these new interns down to size—they refused to stuff envelopes! The whole class gathered to watch the fight in the schoolyard because someone was finally beating the big bully down to size!
beat (one's) head against a/the wall
To attempt continuously and fruitlessly to accomplish some task or achieve some goal that is or seems ultimately hopeless. Some people are never going to agree with you on this, so it's no use beating your head against a wall trying to convince everyone. I feel like I've been beating my head against the wall trying to understand this math equation.
beat (someone/something) into (something)
1. To force someone to do something, as by violence or threats. Don't worry, boss—we'll beat him into silence before he can go to the cops.
2. To put forth effort so that someone learns or remembers something. I stayed up all night, beating these physics equations into my head. Do I have to beat it into you guys? Clean up after yourselves!
3. To deliver a violent physical attack, often to the point of injury. A hyperbolic description of the beaten person's state (often "a pulp") typically follows "into." I can't believe that skinny kid beat the bully into a pulp!
4. To stir a substance until it changes state, as while cooking. You need to beat the eggs into a fluffy texture.
5. To add a substance into a mixture. OK, now beat the butter into the cake batter.
1. Go away; leave me alone. Usually used as an imperative. Beat it, little brother—I've got things to do. What are you kids doing on my lawn? Beat it!
2. To leave a place quickly. We need to beat it before the cops get here!
1. To send away; to force to retreat. Despite the connotation of "beat," this phrase is often used hyperbolically and does not have to reference violent action. Because their house is in such a great location, they have been beating off a lot of interested buyers. I somehow managed to beat off the intruder with a baseball bat. Your daughter is so pretty—it's only a matter of time until she's beating off the suitors!
2. vulgar slang To masturbate. Typically said of males. A: "Why is he all embarrassed today?" B: "Oh, his crush walked in on him beating off. How horrifying is that?"
beat on (something)
To strike something repeatedly. Quit beating on the door, I'm coming! I've been beating on at that nail and still can't get it to go into the wall. How much longer will your little sister beat on the piano tonight? I'm getting a headache from all that racket.
beat (oneself) up
To continually criticize or question oneself, usually about something that one cannot change. Oh, honey, I know you're upset about failing the driver's license test, but try not to beat yourself up too much. I've been really beating myself up about that fight I had with my mom. I wish I could take back a lot of the things I said.
beat (something) out of (someone/something)
1. To aggressively get something (often information) from someone, either through interrogation or physical violence. Let me do the questioning—I'll beat the truth out of that witness. Luckily, a teacher came along before the bully could beat my lunch money out of me.
2. To repeatedly strike an object to remove something from it, usually in an attempt to clean it. I tried beating the dust out of that rug, to no avail.
To outperform or best someone in order win or achieve something. You beat out a lot of very qualified candidates for this internship.
beat the drum (for)
To voice one's support for something. Quit beating the drum for that applicant—he is simply not qualified for the job. At first the legislation didn't seem to have much support, but recently I've seen some people beating the drum online.
beat the rap
slang To escape punishment or blame for a crime or misdeed. Primarily heard in US. With the right lawyer, you can definitely beat the rap and avoid any jail time. Celebrities always seem to be able to beat the rap after they get arrested. Don't think you're beating the rap this time, young man. You're grounded for a month.
beat the system
To succeed by avoiding or breaking the rules, either those of life in general or of a specific structure or organization. Celebrities always seem to be able to beat the system and do whatever they want, no matter how ridiculous or even illegal it may be. These access cards aren't supposed to work after 9 PM, but I found a way to beat the system.
beat (one) to the punch
To do or obtain something before someone else does. The phrase is thought to have originated from boxing. Primarily heard in US. I was going to suggest that idea to the boss today, but unfortunately one of my co-workers beat me to the punch.
1. verb To deliver a violent physical attack. In this usage, a person's name or pronoun is often, but not always, used between "beat" and "up." The captain of the football team swore he would beat me up if I ever talked to his girlfriend again. I can't believe that skinny kid beat up the school bully!
2. verb To defeat an opponent easily and/or by a wide margin. In this usage, the phrase is often followed by "on." The final score was 17-1? Wow, we really beat up on that team! I got beat up by a much more highly ranked opponent in the first round.
3. verb To criticize someone harshly and/or continually. In this usage, the phrase is often followed by "on." Mom, I know you're disappointed in Stephanie's grades, but quit beating up on her—she feels bad enough as it is. I haven't made many sales this year, so I expect to get beat up in my performance review.
4. verb To damage or wear out from heavy use. I'm afraid I tend to beat up my shoes really quickly.
5. adjective Showing signs of wear or damage, as from heavy use. The phrase is typically hyphenated before a noun. Can we throw away these beat-up old notebooks already? The old car looks really beat up, but it runs pretty well.
take a beating
1. To be thoroughly beaten or thrashed. My younger brother was always a shy, skinny kid who often took a beating from schoolyard bullies.
2. To be soundly defeated or bested; to lose. Their team's inexperience showed on the pitch today, as they took a beating from the powerful squad from New Zealand.
3. To suffer severe losses or setbacks. The stock market took a beating after the period of political instablity. My efforts to get my PhD have taken a beating over the last couple of years, but I'm still determined to see it through.
beat at something
to strike out at something. He beat at his attacker to no avail. Lily beat at the snake, but didn't harm it.
beat down (on someone or something)
to fall on someone or something. The rain beat down on us for an hour. The rock slide beat down on the car and totally ruined the body.
beat someone down
Fig. to defeat or demoralize someone. The constant bombing finally beat them down. The attackers beat down the defenders.
beat someone or something back
to drive someone or something back to where it came from. We beat them back to where they were before the war started. The army beat back the defenders and saved the town. They were able to beat the wolves back and make an escape.
beat someone or something off
to drive someone or something away by beating. They beat the enemy off. The army beat off the savage attack, saving the town. I was able to beat off the intruder.
beat someone or something out
to beat someone or something; to win over someone or something. The other team beat us out readily. They beat out every other team in the league, too. I will win! You will not beat me out!
beat someone out
to outdistance someone; to perform better than someone. We have to beat the other company out, and then we'll have the contract. I beat out Walter in the foot race.
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 down
1. to break something in; to break through something. Don't beat the door down! I'm coming! Please don't beat down the door!
2. to flatten something. Sam beat the veal down to the thickness of a half an inch. First you beat down the meat to a very thin layer.
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 the rap
Sl. to evade conviction and punishment (for a crime). He was charged with drunk driving, but he beat the rap. The police hauled Tom in and charged him with a crime. His lawyer helped him beat the rap.
take a beating
to be beaten, bested, or defeated. The candidate took a beating in the primaries. The team took quite a beating.
beat back somethingalso beat something back
to reduce the power or importance of something People who experience a disaster have to beat back the fear and sadness all over again when another disaster strikes. Once again, health-care reform has been beaten back in Congress.
beat somebody down
to make someone tired or unable to continue doing something I like the work, but the schedule just beats me down and wears on me.
Usage notes: often used in the form be beaten down: Paul was so beaten down by his debts that he couldn't even think.
to go away immediately I told the kid to beat it, and that's the last I saw of him. She said she was going to pack her bag and beat it back to Tennessee.
Usage notes: often used as an order: Go on, beat it!
Etymology: based on the phrase beat a retreat (leave a battle quickly)
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)
take a beating
1. to be severely defeated in a game or competition The Knights really took a beating in last night's game.
2. to lose a lot of money The company took a beating last year, losing about $50 million.
3. to be severely criticized The president took a beating from environmental groups yesterday.
4. to be damaged by something The southeast took another beating from the weather yesterday.Related vocabulary: take a licking
Etymology: based on the literal meaning of take a beating (to be hit and badly hurt)
beat a dead horse
to waste time doing something that has already been attempted Do you think it's worth sending my manuscript to other publishers or I am just beating a dead horse?
beat the rap
to avoid being punished People think that if you have enough money and high-priced lawyers, you can generally beat the rap.Related vocabulary: get off (scot-free)
beat the system
to get what you want by not following the usual rules If you have money and know the right people, you have a much better chance of beating the system. Ellen always has some scheme that she thinks will help her beat the system.
beat the rap(American informal)
to escape being punished There's no way he can beat the rap now. No lawyer can save him.
take a beating
to be defeated or to lose a lot of money The Knicks really took a beating in last night's game. The company took a beating last year, losing $50 million in profits.
beat a dead horse
Also, flog a dead horse. Try to revive interest in a hopeless issue. For example, Politicians who favor the old single-tax idea are beating a dead horse. From the 1600s on the term dead horse was used figuratively to mean "something of no current value," specifically an advance in pay or other debt that had to be worked ("flogged") off. [Second half of 1800s]
Force to retreat or withdraw, as in His findings beat back all their arguments to the contrary. This phrase was often used in a military context (and still is), as in Their armies were beaten back. [Late 1500s]
1. Force or drive down; defeat or subdue. For example, "And finally to beat down Satan under our feet" ( The Book of Common Prayer, 1552). [c. 1400]
2. Strike violently, as in the The sun kept beating down on us all day long. [Mid-1800s]
3. beat someone down. Make someone lower a price, as in He's always trying to beat us down. Economist Jeremy Bentham used this idiom in 1793: "Thus monopoly will beat down prices." [Slang; late 1700s]
Go away, as in We should beat it before the food's all gone. This term is rude when used as an imperative, as in Stop pestering me-beat it! [Slang; late 1800s]
Repulse, drive away by blows, as in We tried to beat off the flying ants swarming about us. Originating in the mid-1600s in a military context, this term was being used for other activities by the mid-1700s.
1. Knock into shape by beating, as in She managed to beat out all the dents in the fender. [c. 1600]
2. Surpass or defeat someone; be chosen over someone. For example, He got to the head of the line, beating out all the others. [Colloquial; second half of 1700s] Also see beat the pants off.
3. beat out of. Cheat someone of something, as in He was always trying to beat the conductor out of the full train fare. [Slang; second half of 1800s]
beat the rap
Escape punishment; win acquittal. For example, The youngsters were caught shoplifting, but somehow they were able to beat the rap. The rap in this idiom means "the legal charge against one." [Slang; 1920s]
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]
1. To hit something until it falls down: The police beat down the door of the suspect's house. They approached the crumbling wall and beat it down with their bare hands.
2. To defeat or demoralize someone: The constant criticism beat me down, and it was hard for me to try again. The invaders beat down every village they passed through.
3. To fall down steadily and heavily: The rain beat down on the roof.
4. To persuade someone to reduce the price of something: The clerk wanted $40 for the shoes but I beat him down to $30.
1. To drive someone or something away, especially by fighting or hitting: Two robbers attacked me on the subway, but I beat them off with my bag. After a long battle, the soldiers beat off the invaders.
2. To defeat someone or something in a competition: Our company intends to beat off our rivals for the contract. The visiting team was behind us for most of the game, but beat us off squarely in the end.
3. Vulgar Slang To masturbate. Used of males.
1. To defeat someone or something in a competition: I won a lot of games, but the top athlete beat out everyone. You're ahead now, but we'll beat you out in the end!
2. beat out of To achieve or obtain something from something or someone by beating or assaulting: We beat the dirt out of the rug. The hooligans beat a false confession out of me.
beat offand ball off and jack off and jag off and jerk off and pull oneself off and toss off and wack off and wank off and whack off and whank off and whip off
1. in. to masturbate. (Usually objectionable.) They say if you beat off too much, you’ll get pimples.
2. in. to waste time; to waste one’s efforts; to do something inefficiently. The whole lot of them were jacking off rather than sticking to business. Stop whanking off and get on with your work!
beat the rap
tv. to evade conviction and punishment (for a crime). The police hauled Tom in and charged him with a crime. His lawyer helped him beat the rap.
mod. visibly worn; shabby. (This is hyphenated before a nominal.) Get your beat-up car painted or something!
take a beating
tv. to be beaten, bested, or defeated. The candidate took a beating in the runoffs.
To leave hurriedly.
beat the rapSlang
To escape punishment or be acquitted of a charge.