Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Legal, Acronyms, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.
Like this video? Subscribe to our free daily email and get a new idiom video every day!
a good voice to beg bacon
Used to mock someone's voice as being strange, unpleasant, or inadequate (e.g., for singing). Bacon, being a dietary staple in older times, was often used as a metaphor for financial stability or wealth; having the voice of one who must "beg bacon," then, means having a harsh voice, like someone who is undernourished. Did you hear the way that singer was screeching last night? I'm glad we didn't stay too long, he had a good voice to beg bacon.
beg on bended knee
To beg or plead for something submissively and with dramatic earnestness. Refers to kneeling before someone from whom one must beg for mercy or favor. After five years, I'm ready to beg on bended knee for a promotion. We have to remain strong in the eyes of the world. We cannot beg on bended knee for help from our allies.
beg, borrow, or steal
To acquire or accomplish something by any means necessary or available. I don't care if you have to beg, borrow, or steal to get it, I want that car and I want it now! I'm in such a jam, I can't even beg, borrow, or steal the money I need to pay my rent this month.
See also: steal
To become or remain unused, unclaimed, unfilled, or unwanted, especially a job or product. You'd think in this economy that we could fill the IT Director position immediately, but the job has gone a-begging After the price of corn plummeted, half our supply has just been going a-begging in the storage silo.
I beg your pardon
1. I apologize for what I just did or said. Oh, I beg your pardon. I wasn't looking where I was going.
2. What did you just say? Could you please repeat that? I beg your pardon, I couldn't quite hear you.
3. An expression or exclamation of indignation or incredulous disbelief. A: "I'm afraid we're going to have to cut your funding, effective immediately." B: "I beg your pardon? Who on earth decided that?"
4. Could you please give me your attention. I beg your pardon, everyone, but I'd like to get tonight's proceedings underway.
5. I believe you are mistaken or incorrect; I beg to differ; I don't agree with you on that. I beg your pardon, but I believe you'll find that our school is actually one of the best in the state.
To be available for one to take or claim. If that cake is going begging, I'll take a few pieces home with me. We can't let these antiques from Aunt Judy go begging—here, take a vintage lamp.
beg for (someone or something)
To plead or ask earnestly for something or someone. Our kids have been begging for a dog for years, and we're finally getting them one. I tried to calm my little cousin down and distract her, but she still begged for her mama all night.
beg (something) from (someone)
To plead or ask someone earnestly for something. I forgot my wallet at home today, so I had to beg some money from my friends for lunch.
To plead with someone for something. This phrase often suggests a certain intensity or desperation from the speaker. A noun can be used between "beg" and "of." Oh, please come with me tonight, I beg of you. I can't possibly go alone. Can I beg a few dollars of you? I forgot my wallet at home today.
To ask to be excused from an obligation or invitation. A noun can be used between "beg" and "off." She had to beg off that project when she realized that it interfered with her normal duties. I begged the dinner party off last night because I was feeling ill.
beg the question
1. To provoke a specific question (which typically follows this phrase). If he has a great job but is always broke, it begs the question of where the money is going?
2. To assume or believe that something is true when its veracity is unverified. My opponent in this debate has again begged the question, assuming his premise to be true without evidence.
beg to differ
To politely disagree with someone else. I'm sorry, headmaster, but I beg to differ. Students at this school should have more access to financial aid and scholarships, not less. He thinks that the evening was a disaster, but I beg to differ—I saw plenty of guests enjoying themselves!
be going begging
To be available for one to take or claim. If that cake is going begging, I'll take a few pieces home with me.
1. A polite phrase used after one has done something that does not adhere to proper etiquette. Oh, excuse me—I didn't mean to bump into you, ma'am. Petey, say "excuse me" after you burp!
2. A phrase said when one is trying to pass through a crowded area. This phrase is sometimes verbally shortened to 'scuse me. Excuse me, everyone, I have to get through with this cart.
3. An expression of politeness that precedes a possible disagreement or an upsetting question. Excuse me, sir, but didn't you specifically tell us to make that change last month?
4. An indignant response, often posed as a question. Excuse me? How can you say something that hurtful to me, your own mother? Well, excuse me for actually caring about your future, unlike you!
5. A request for one to repeat what they have said. Excuse me? I'm sorry, I couldn't hear you.
6. A phrase used when one is correcting a verbal mistake. We had 200, excuse me, 210 people at the event.
7. An apologetic phrase that precedes an interruption. Excuse me, sir, but your wife is calling on line two—she says it's urgent.
8. An apologetic phrase that precedes a departure. Excuse me, I have to leave early for a doctor's appointment. I'll see you all tomorrow.
I beg to disagree
I politely disagree. I'm sorry, headmaster, but I beg to disagree. Students at this school should have more access to financial aid and scholarships, not less. He thinks that the evening was a disaster, but I beg to disagree—I saw plenty of guests enjoying themselves!
beg for someone or something
to plead to be given someone or something. He missed Jane a lot and was just begging for her to return to him. Jane begged for another helping of ice cream.
beg of someone
to request earnestly of someone. (Usually added to a request.) Please help me. I beg of you. I beg of you to help me.
beg off (on something)
to ask to be released from something; to refuse an invitation. I'm sorry, but I'll be out of town on the day of your party. I'll have to beg off on your invitation. I have an important meeting, so I'll have to beg off.
beg something from someone
to plead for something from someone. She begged the amount of a telephone call from someone who walked by. I begged a dollar from a kind lady who went by.
beg something of someone
to request earnestly that someone do something or grant something. Please help me. I beg it of you. She begged a favor of Max.
beg something off
to decline an invitation politely. She begged the trip to the zoo off. We all begged off the dinner invitation.
beg the question
1. to carry on a false argument where one assumes as proved the very point that is being argued, or more loosely, to evade the issue at hand. (Essentially a criticism of someone's line of argument.) Stop arguing in circles. You're begging the question. A: Why do two lines that are equidistant from one another never meet? B: Because they are parallel. A: You are begging the question.
2. to invite the (following) question. (This reinterpretation of beg the question is incorrect but is currently in widespread use.) His complaints beg the question: Didn't he cause all of his problems himself?
beg to differ (with someone)
Fig. to disagree with someone; to state one's disagreement with someone in a polite way. (Usually used in a statement made to the person being disagreed with.) I beg to differ with you, but you have stated everything exactly backwards. If I may beg to differ, you have not expressed my position as well as you seem to think.
Excuse me.and Excuse, please.; Pardon (me).; 'Scusc (me).; 'Scusc, please.
1. an expression asking forgiveness for some minor social violation, such as belching or bumping into someone. ('Scuse is colloquial, and the apostrophe is not always used.) John: Ouch! Bob: Excuse me. I didn't see you there. Mary: Oh! Ow! Sue: Pardon me. I didn't mean to bump into you. Tom: Ouch! Mary: Oh, dear! What happened? Tom: You stepped on my toe. Mary: Excuse me. I'm sorry.
2. Please let me through.; Please let me by. Tom: Excuse me. I need to get past. Bob: Oh, sorry. I didn't know I was in the way. Mary: Pardon me. Sue: What? Mary: Pardon me. I want to get past you.
Fig. to be left over, unwanted, or unused. (As if a thing were begging for an owner or a user.) There is still food left. A whole lobster is going begging. Please eat some more, There are many excellent books in the library just going begging because people don't know they are there.
(I) beg your pardon, but...and Begging your pardon, but...
Please excuse me, but. (A very polite and formal way of interrupting, bringing something to someone's attention, or asking a question of a stranger.) Rachel: Beg your pardon, but I think your right front tire is a little low. Henry: Well, I guess it is. Thank you. John: Begging your pardon, ma'am, but weren't we on the same cruise ship in Alaska last July? Rachel: Couldn't have been me.
I'll have to beg off.
Fig. a polite expression used to turn down an informal invitation. Andrew: Thank you for inviting me, but I'll have to beg off. I have a conflict. Henry: I'm sorry to hear that. Maybe some other time. Bill: Do you think you can come to the party? Bob: I'll have to beg off. I have another engagement. Bill: Maybe some other time.
beg, borrow, or steal
Obtain by any possible means, as in You couldn't beg, borrow, or steal tickets to the Olympics. This term is often used in the negative, to describe something that cannot be obtained; Chaucer used it in The Tale of the Man of Law. [Late 1300s]
See also: steal
Ask to be released from an obligation; turn down an invitation. For example, He's asked me out to dinner three times already, but I have to beg off again, or Mother couldn't take on another committee and so she begged off. [Early 1700s]
beg the question
Take for granted or assume the truth of the very thing being questioned. For example, Shopping now for a dress to wear to the ceremony is really begging the question-she hasn't been invited yet . This phrase, whose roots are in Aristotle's writings on logic, came into English in the late 1500s. In the 1990s, however, people sometimes used the phrase as a synonym of "ask the question" (as in The article begs the question: "What are we afraid of?").
beg to differ
Disagree with someone, as in John told me Max was sure to win, but I beg to differ-I don't think he has a chance. This courteous formula for expressing disagreement echoes similar uses of beg in the sense of "ask," such as I beg your pardon, so used since about 1600. Also see excuse me.
1. Also, I beg your pardon, pardon me. Forgive me, as in Excuse me, please let me pass, or Pardon me for asking, or I beg your pardon, I don't think so. These phrases are used as an apology for interrupting a conversation, bumping into someone, asking a speaker to repeat something, politely disagreeing with something said, and so on. The first dates from about 1600, the first variant from about 1800, the second from the mid-1700s.
2. Also, excuse oneself. Allow or ask to leave or be released from an obligation. For example, Please excuse me, I have to leave now, or I asked the judge to excuse me from jury duty. [1920s]
Be in little or no demand, as in At this time of year barrels of apples go begging. [Late 1500s]
I beg your pardon
see under beg to differ.
If something goes begging, it is available to be used or bought, but nobody seems to want it. Nearly half a million holidays for the busiest six weeks of the year are still going begging. Paintings by pop artist Andy Warhol went begging for the second night in a row last night at the auction house.
beg the question
1. If something begs the question, it makes people want to ask that question. Hopewell's success begs the question, why aren't more companies doing the same? When pushed to explain, words — for once — failed the England manager, begging the obvious question: Does he really know?
2. If someone's statement begs the question, they can only make that statement if a particular thing is true, although it may not be. His position on global warming is begging the question that humans are responsible. Note: This is a rough translation of the Latin expression `petitio principii', a technical term used in logic to describe a situation in which the truth of something is assumed before it has been proved.
beg the question1 raise a point that has not been dealt with; invite an obvious question. 2 assume the truth of an argument or of a proposition to be proved, without arguing it.
The original meaning of the phrase beg the question belongs to the field of logic and is a translation of Latin petitio principii , literally meaning ‘laying claim to a principle’, i.e. assume the truth of something that ought to be proved first. For many traditionalists this remains the only correct meaning, but far commoner in English today is the first sense here, ‘invite an obvious question’.
go begging1 (of an article) be available. 2 (of an opportunity) not be taken.
ˌbeg, ˌborrow or ˈsteal(also ˌbeg, ˌsteal or ˈborrow) obtain something any way you can: We’ll have to beg, steal or borrow enough money to pay the fines.
beg the ˈquestion
1 make somebody want to ask a question that has not yet been answered: All of which begs the question as to who will fund the project.
2 talk about something as if it were definitely true, even though it might not be: This proposal begs the question of whether a change is needed at all. ▶ ˈquestion-begging noun, adj.: a question-begging argument
I beg to ˈdifferused to say politely that you do not agree with something that has just been said: I must beg to differ on this. I think you are quite mistaken.
I beg your ˈpardon(formal)
1 used as a polite way of saying sorry for something you have just said or done: Did I step on your toe? Oh, I beg your pardon!
2 used to ask somebody to repeat what they have just said because you did not hear: ‘It’s on Duke Street.’ ‘I beg your pardon?’ ‘Duke Street.’
3 (especially British English) used to show that you are angry or offended: I beg your pardon! I’d rather you didn’t refer to my father as ‘that fat man’.
go ˈbegging(British English, spoken) ( go is usually used in the progressive tenses) (of things) be unwanted: I’ll have that last potato if it’s going begging.
1 used before you do or say something that might annoy somebody, or to get somebody’s attention: Excuse me, is anybody sitting here? ♢ Excuse me, could you tell me the time, please?
2 used for saying sorry or disagreeing with somebody, or for showing that you are annoyed: Excuse me, but I think you’re mistaken. ♢ Excuse me, sir, but you can’t park there!
3 used when you are leaving the room for a short time: Excuse me a minute, I’ll be right back.
4 (especially American English) used for saying sorry for something you have done: Excuse me, did I step on your toe?
5 (especially American English) used when you did not hear what somebody said and you want them to repeat it
To excuse oneself from something, such as an obligation: We were invited to stay for dinner, but we had to beg off.
beg (someone's) pardon
Used to introduce a polite request.
beg the question
1. To assume to be true what one is purporting to prove in an argument.
2. To call to mind a question in a discussion; invite or provoke a question.
beg to differ
To disagree in a polite manner.
1. Used to acknowledge and ask forgiveness for an action that could cause offense.
2. Used to request that a statement be repeated.
beg the question
To assume the question in your answer. For example, if the question is “Should marijuana use be criminalized?” to reply “Yes, because if it isn't, then lots of criminals will be roaming the streets” is to beg the question. That is, the answer assumes that pot users are criminals when that's the precise question under debate. Although the phrase is now widely heard as a synonym for raising or asking a question, its original meaning is still used by the dwindling band of educated speakers.