Green’s Dictionary of Slang

beef n.2

[beef v.1 ]

1. [late 19C–1950s] (US tramp) an act of betrayal to the authorities.

2. [late 19C+] (US) a complaint, a problem; thus what’s one’s/the beef?, what’s one’s/the problem?; make a beef, to complain, to make a fuss.

3. [late 19C+] (US campus) a mistake; thus make a beef, to err, to blunder.

4. [1910s+] a criminal charge; often as bum beef

5. [1920s–80s] (US Und.) a crime under investigation.

6. [1940s+] (US black) a statement, conversation, line of talk.

7. [1940s+] an altercation.

8. [1950s+] (US Und.) a discussion; chatter.

9. [1960s] (US Und.) an arrest.

10. [1960s] (US Und.) a criminal act.

11. [1960s–70s] (US) a (usu. hotel or restaurant) bill.

12. [1960s–70s] (US prison) a jail sentence.

13. [1960s+] (US prison) a disciplinary charge.

14. [1980s] (US campus) facts, information.

15. [2000s] (UK black) general aggression, atmosphere of violence.

In compounds

beef baby (n.)

[2000s] (US black) a child fathered by a gangster who is living temporarily with a girlfriend or mistress while hiding from the authorities.

Beef City (n.) [-city sfx]

[1940s] a situation in which one is complaining.

In phrases

bogus beef (n.) [bogus adj. (1)]

[1930s+] (US black) a groundless complaint.

bum beef (n.) [bum adj. (6)]

1. [1910s+] a criminal charge that is considered unfair (in criminal eyes).

2. [1960s+] (US prison) a disciplinary punishment considered unfair by the prisoner.

chew the beef (v.) (also chew raw beef)

[1940s] (US Und.) to complain.

chill a beef (v.) [chill v.2 (6)]

[1930s–40s] to deal with a problem.

cool the beef (v.) [cool v.2 (1)]

[1950s+] to deal with a problem or a complaint.

put up a beef (v.)

[1950s] to make a fuss.

square the beef (v.) [square v. (1)]

[1930s] to deal with a problem, typically to escape a criminal charge by paying a bribe.

street beef (n.) [street, the n. (2) ]

[1990s+] (US Und.) crimes committed inside prison by a serving prisoner who is tried in a normal court rather than facing internal prison discipline; such crimes include murder, escape, sex- or drug-related offences; also as v.

take beef (v.)

[1990s+] (US black) to get into arguments, to face criticism.

where’s the beef? [slogan for Wendy’s hamburgers in 1984 + play on SE beef]

[1980s+] (US) what’s the real point, importance, inner meaning, content etc?