Green’s Dictionary of Slang

beef v.1

[cry (hot) beef under hot beef! excl.]

1. [early–mid-19C] to raise a hue and cry.

2. [mid-19C] to raise an alarm (other than over a crime).

3. [mid-19C–1910s] (orig. theatre) to shout.

4. [mid-19C+] to complain.

5. [late 19C] (US) to bully.

6. [late 19C–1960s] (US tramp) to give someone away, to betray to the authorities; to own up; thus beefer, an informant, one who complains to the authorities.

7. [late 19C+] (US) to argue.

8. [20C+] (US) to talk loudly (esp. to no real purpose).

9. [1900s] (US) to waste time.

10. [1900s–10s] (US) to blunder, to make a mistake.

11. [1910s–50s] to say, to declare.

12. [1970s] (US prison) to charge with a crime.

13. [1980s+] to make an official complaint against someone.

14. [2000s] (orig. US black) to argue, to pick a fight (with someone).

15. (UK black/gang) to attack; to fight with.

In derivatives

beefer (n.)

1. [late 19C–1930s] (US) a whinger, a complainer.

2. [late 19C] (US) a second-rate boxer.

3. [late 19C–1940s] (US tramp) an informer.

In phrases

beef it (v.)

see separate entry.

beef (it) out (v.)

[mid-19C-1920s] (Aus.) to call or sing; occas. to play, loudly and enthusiastically.

make beef (v.)

[19C] to leave, to run off.

take beef (v.)

[mid–late 19C] (UK Und.) to run away.