from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • intransitive verb To strike repeatedly.
  • intransitive verb To subject to repeated beatings or physical abuse; batter.
  • intransitive verb To punish by hitting or whipping; flog.
  • intransitive verb To strike against repeatedly and with force; pound.
  • intransitive verb To flap (wings, for example).
  • intransitive verb To strike so as to produce music or a signal.
  • intransitive verb Music To mark or count (time or rhythm), especially with the hands or with a baton.
  • intransitive verb To shape or break by repeated blows; forge.
  • intransitive verb To make by pounding or trampling.
  • intransitive verb To mix rapidly with a utensil.
  • intransitive verb To defeat or subdue, as in a contest. synonym: defeat.
  • intransitive verb To force to withdraw or retreat.
  • intransitive verb To dislodge from a position.
  • intransitive verb Informal To be superior to or better than.
  • intransitive verb Slang To perplex or baffle.
  • intransitive verb To avoid or counter the effects of, often by thinking ahead; circumvent.
  • intransitive verb To arrive or finish before (another).
  • intransitive verb To deprive, as by craft or ability.
  • intransitive verb Physics To cause a reference wave to combine with (a second wave) so that the frequency of the second wave can be studied through time variations in the amplitude of the combination.
  • intransitive verb To inflict repeated blows.
  • intransitive verb To pulsate; throb.
  • intransitive verb To emit sound when struck.
  • intransitive verb To strike a drum.
  • intransitive verb To flap repeatedly.
  • intransitive verb To shine or glare intensely.
  • intransitive verb To fall in torrents.
  • intransitive verb To hunt through woods or underbrush in search of game.
  • intransitive verb Nautical To sail in the direction from which the wind blows.
  • noun A stroke or blow, especially one that produces a sound or serves as a signal.
  • noun A pulsation or throb.
  • noun Physics A variation in the amplitude of a wave, especially that which results from the superpositioning of two or more waves of different frequencies. When sound waves are combined, the beat is heard as a pulsation in the sound.
  • noun A steady succession of units of rhythm.
  • noun A gesture used by a conductor to indicate such a unit.
  • noun A pattern of stress that produces the rhythm of verse.
  • noun A variable unit of time measuring a pause taken by an actor, as for dramatic effect.
  • noun The area regularly covered by a reporter, a police officer, or a sentry.
  • noun The reporting of a news item obtained ahead of one's competitors.
  • noun A member of the Beat Generation.
  • adjective Informal Worn-out; fatigued.
  • adjective Of or relating to the Beat Generation.


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

[Middle English beten, from Old English bēaten; see bhau- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From beatnik

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English beten, from Old English bēatan ("to beat, pound, strike, lash, dash, thrust, hurt, injure"), from Proto-Germanic *bautanan (“to push, strike”) (compare Low German boten, German boßen, Old Norse bauta), from Proto-Indo-European *bhau- (compare Old Irish fo-botha 'he threatened', Latin confutāre 'to strike down', fūstis 'stick, club', Albanian bahe 'sling', Lithuanian baudžiù, Bulgarian bútam 'I beat, knock', Armenian but' 'stump').


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  • Punch's eye was still glued to the opening, he saw the soldiers turn rightabout face, disappear through the open doorway, and then, _beat, beat, beat_, the sound of marching began again, this time to die slowly away, and he looked and listened till the pressure of Pen's hand upon his arm grew almost painful.

    !Tention A Story of Boy-Life during the Peninsular War George Manville Fenn 1870

  • I next inquired of a watchman, who said there was no place upon his beat; but _beat_ was Gaelic to me; and I repeated my inquiry to another, who directed me towards the hells of Saffron Hill.

    Wilson's Tales of the Borders and of Scotland, Volume XXII Alexander Leighton 1837

  • The word beat through her brain, both a paradise and a churning storm.

    Ecstasy in Darkness Gena Showalter 2010

  • The word beat through her brain, both a paradise and a churning storm.

    Ecstasy in Darkness Gena Showalter 2010

  • As we look at this picture, I don't know if it comes across on TV, having been close to the shuttles many times, what you notice when you see them up close is how, well, you almost want to use the term beat up.

    CNN Transcript Jul 14, 2002 2002

  • The Los Angeles Times takes a look at fun alternatives to jogging: Swiveling to the beat is all part of the fun at Hoopnotica — a company that make the hula hoop the central part of its fitness strategy. | Blog | Hooping: The Fun Alternative to Jogging 2009

  • The fact that an officer could be in a Police station at the other end of the country and as long as he was dealing with an offender that had committed an offence on his patch it was counted as being on his beat is absolutely disgusting and a very cynical way of deliberatly manipulating statistics to mislead the public.

    Hayley Adamson is dead but Northumbria wins Gold! « POLICE INSPECTOR BLOG Inspector Gadget 2010

  • For them to put together such a great run then lose guys like Afinogenov, Drury, Briere, Spacek, Connolly, Kotalik, and Paul Gaustad and bring up players from Rochester that have never played in an NHL game and not lose a beat is amazing.

    SciFi, Fantasy & Horror Collectibles - Part 6485 2009

  • Even Ira might have smiled at that one — or maybe the self-referentiality of Run DMC: This beat is my recital;

    Archive 2008-06-01 Matthew Guerrieri 2008

  • Even Ira might have smiled at that one — or maybe the self-referentiality of Run DMC: This beat is my recital;

    The Hills of Tomorrow Matthew Guerrieri 2008


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  • See beatnik.

    September 1, 2007

  • "Physics. To cause beating by superposing waves of different frequencies."

    - The American Heritage Dictionary

    July 14, 2010

  • Yep. Great fun, especially when you gently, with one finger, caress the aluminum case of the external hard drive you trust with all your backups (while you are well grounded and the hard drive probably less so) and you feel it responding to you with an equally gentle purr.

    (I can only guess, but it may be the beat of the 50 Hz AC and the vibration of the finger on the satin finish surface.)

    July 15, 2010

  • Excellent link, telofy. I have now added the words wettability and solderability to my vocabulary.

    July 15, 2010

  • Thanks. The effect is also used for tuning instruments. I guess the wheel of an accelerating car seemingly slowing down and then spinning backwards when observed through a video camera, is also a related phenomenon.

    This, I think, is somewhat more complex, though.

    With three (and more) different superimposed frequencies it quickly gets a lot more confusing. A possible reason why I could never make much sense of my biorhythm curves. ;-)

    July 15, 2010

  • Beats are especially important for tuning notes in the middle and upper octaves of a piano. For the lower notes, when you play a key, the hammer hits only one string. For the higher notes, when you play a key, the hammer might be hitting two or three strings which need to be tuned to the same note. My instructor would chuckle about how people were always telling him they couldn't tune because they didn't have perfect pitch and how he'd always be telling them perfect pitch doesn't matter - you just have to listen for the beats.

    July 15, 2010