from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. The horny, projecting structure forming the mandibles of a bird, especially one that is strong, sharp, and useful in striking and tearing; a bill.
  • n. A similar structure in other animals, such as turtles, insects, or fish.
  • n. A usually firm, tapering tip on certain plant structures, such as some seeds and fruits.
  • n. A beaklike structure or part, as:
  • n. The spout of a pitcher.
  • n. A metal or metal-clad ram projecting from the bow of an ancient warship.
  • n. Informal The human nose.
  • n. Chiefly British Slang A schoolmaster.
  • n. Chiefly British Slang A judge.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A rigid structure projecting from the front of a bird's face, used for pecking, grooming and for eating food.
  • n. A similar structure forming the jaws of an octopus.
  • n. The metal point fixed on the bows of a war galley, used as a ram.
  • n. A justice of the peace, magistrate, headmaster or other person of authority.
  • n. The human nose, especially one that is large and pointed.
  • v. strike with the beak.
  • v. seize with the beak.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n.
  • n. The bill or nib of a bird, consisting of a horny sheath, covering the jaws. The form varies much according to the food and habits of the bird, and is largely used in the classification of birds.
  • n. A similar bill in other animals, as the turtles.
  • n. The long projecting sucking mouth of some insects, and other invertebrates, as in the Hemiptera.
  • n. The upper or projecting part of the shell, near the hinge of a bivalve.
  • n. The prolongation of certain univalve shells containing the canal.
  • n. Anything projecting or ending in a point, like a beak, as a promontory of land.
  • n. A beam, shod or armed at the end with a metal head or point, and projecting from the prow of an ancient galley, in order to pierce the vessel of an enemy; a beakhead.
  • n. That part of a ship, before the forecastle, which is fastened to the stem, and supported by the main knee.
  • n. A continuous slight projection ending in an arris or narrow fillet; that part of a drip from which the water is thrown off.
  • n. Any process somewhat like the beak of a bird, terminating the fruit or other parts of a plant.
  • n. A toe clip. See Clip, n. (Far.).
  • n. A magistrate or policeman.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. In zoology, the rostrum, snout, muzzle, jaws, mandibles, or some similar part of an animal.
  • n. Anything ending in a point like a beak.
  • n. A gas-burner having a round smooth hole of an inch in diameter; a bird's-mouth.
  • n. A beak-iron (which see).
  • In cock-fighting, to seize or strike with the beak.
  • n. A magistrate; a judge; a policeman.
  • n. In the shells of the Brachiopoda (Molluscoidea) and Pelecypoda (Mollusca), the projecting, usually arched, part of the valves; the initial part of the shell about which accretions by growth have been added unequally.
  • n. Specifically, the mouthpiece of instruments like the clarinet and some varieties of flageolets or direct flutes.
  • To ram (a ship) with the beak or prow so as to penetrate the hull in an endeavor to sink it.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. informal terms for the nose
  • n. horny projecting mouth of a bird
  • n. a beaklike, tapering tip on certain plant structures
  • n. beaklike mouth of animals other than birds (e.g., turtles)
  • v. hit lightly with a picking motion


Middle English bek, from Old French bec, from Latin beccus, of Celtic origin.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Middle English bec, from Anglo-Norman, from Old French bec, from Latin beccus, from Gaulish *beccos (“chicken beak”, literally "small"), (compare Irish beag ("little"), Welsh bach, bychan Breton bac'h, bihan and beg ("beak"). (Wiktionary)


  • Size, shape, and strength of chick beak is impacted when the gene is manipulated.

    Ancient Sleep and Flipping Switches

  • As the Yoon paper states, you have this large diversity of finch species marked off by variations in beak size.

    Ancient Sleep and Flipping Switches

  • However, this only works when the base of the beak is wet.

    Archive 2008-03-01

  • Adaptive changes in beak size/shape could then be considered "epigenetic" – sensitive to selection pressures, but not a result of random mutations in the beak gene.

    Behe Responds

  • Changes in beak traits is the prediction based on how Natural Selection works.

    Behe Responds

  • Rukh carrying off three elephants in beak and pounces with the proportions of a hawk and field mice: and the Rukh hawking at an elephant is a favourite Persian subject.

    The Book of The Thousand Nights And A Night

  • The proverbial finch beak is extrapolated out over millions of years to produce novel features.

    Demarcation as Politics

  • The Pelican of ordinary zoology is an aquatic fowl approximately six feet tall with a long, broad beak from whose lower jaw there hangs a reddish membrane forming a sort of sack or basket for holding fish; the Pelican of fable is smaller, and its beak is short and sharp.

    Archive 2008-09-01

  • The beak is only cartilage, like our finger nails, and debeaking does no harm usually.

    Think Progress » ThinkFast AM: June 30, 2006

  • The illusion would be that each species beak is designed a priori for its particular food source.

    Analogy, How Scientifically Powerful is It?


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  • I didn't know the sense of "schoolmaster" 'til now.

    As in: "At his school, Harrow, one of the beaks from his house, Druries (where Lord Byron had been, not to mention Lord Palmerston, who had died only a year before), had noticed Lenox's height and asked him to come row for the house team."
    The September Society by Charles Finch, p 14

    December 11, 2011

  • Citation (as slang for magistrate) on peeler.

    June 30, 2008

  • Haha!

    March 11, 2008

  • "'You would have rejoiced in the birds. There was one with a beak.'

    "'That alone would have been worth the voyage.'"
    --Patrick O'Brian, The Truelove, 243

    March 11, 2008