Green’s Dictionary of Slang

beat adj.

[SE beaten]

1. (also beat out, bet) of a person, exhausted, tired out, emotionally and physically.

[US] in Essex Institute Historical Collections (Salem, MA) XVIII 92: Some was very much beat out by their march from Northampton [OED].
[UK]‘An Amateur’ Real Life in London I 189: Limping Billy, who though beat to a stand still, was after some difficulty lifted up behind.
Moore Poetical Works (1842) 72: Till fairly beat, the saint gave o’er .
[US]T. Haliburton Sam Slick in England I 92: ‘Fairly beat out,’ said he, ‘I am shockin’ tired.’.
[UK]R.S. Surtees Hillingdon Hall II 321: Our friend, however, was beat, and before he got half over the next field he acknowledged it.
[US]F.M. Whitcher Widow Bedott Papers (1883) 93: She looked dretful tired and beat out.
[UK]H. Kingsley Recollections of G. Hamlyn (1891) 365: The lad was getting beat, and couldn’t a’ gone much further.
[UK](con. 1840s–50s) H. Mayhew London Labour and London Poor III 421/1: Since that I’ve done nothing, and was so beat out that I had to pass two days and nights in the streets. [Ibid.] 210/2: I was so beat that I dropt down about a mile before we got to the town.
[US]H.B. Stowe Oldtown Folks 87: Well, she does look beat eout [sic] to be sure.
[US]M. Thompson Hoosier Mosaics 116: I stole him slicker ’n a eel. I had him ’fore he knowed it, and you jist better bet he was one clean beat conductor fore I was done wi’ ’im.
[US](con. c.1840) ‘Mark Twain’ Huckleberry Finn (2001) 345: We cruised along up-shore till we got kind of tired and beat out.
[US]J.C. Duval Adventures of Jack Dobell 114: I arrived a little after sunset, so ‘beat out’ with my day’s tramp that I turned into bed.
[Aus]‘Banjo’ Paterson ‘The Man from Ironbark’ in Man from Snowy River (1902) 66: You’ve done for me! you dog, I’m beat!
[UK]Boy’s Own Paper 29 June 613: But look here, he’s getting beat out.
[UK]K. Grahame Wind in the Willows (1995) 68: We’ll have a good rest before we try again, for we’re both of us pretty dead beat.
[US]J. London Valley of the Moon (1914) 8: I’m just tired, that‘s all, and my feet hurt. [...] I’m just beat out.
[Aus]C.J. Dennis ‘War’ in Moods of Ginger Mick 24: Mick strikes a light an’ sits down on ’is truck, / An’ chews ’is fag – a sign ’is nerve is beat.
[US]E. O’Neill Anna Christie Act II: I’m bate out – bate out entirely.
[Aus]K.S. Prichard Haxby’s Circus 15: I’m fair beat.
Memphis Slim ‘Jive Blues’ [lyrics] Baby, I’m beat to my socks, do you did just what i mean.
[US]Mezzrow & Wolfe Really the Blues 335: If I’d known I was being significant, instead of just hungry and beat, I sure would have changed my ways.
[US]N. Algren Man with the Golden Arm 33: A beat-out deck ’n a dirty shirt is what you really bring.
[US]W. Fisher Waiters 213: ‘I’m beat,’ he said wearily. ‘I’m beat right down to my socks.’.
[UK](con. 1943) A. Myrer Big War 13: You’re all beat-out and bushed.
[US]C. Himes Rage in Harlem (1969) 25: ‘You look beat,’ the counterman said.
[SA]J. Matthews The Park and Other Stories (1983) 26: ‘Yer too much beat but I go eat yer sometime’ Sly called after her.
[Ire](con. 1920s) L. Redmond Emerald Square 168: ‘Bet from the drink,’ Mag whispered.
[UK]M. Amis London Fields 349: I’m often too beat to get out of her way.
[US]D. Hecht Skull Session 36: I’m beat.
[US]G.V. Higgins At End of Day (2001) 139: Come home at night, exhausted, beat to shit.

2. (US, also beaten) amazed, astonished, at a loss.

[US]A.B. Longstreet Georgia Scenes (1848) 194: Well, the law me, I’m clear beat!
[US]Bartlett Dict. Americanisms 28: to beat. [...] to overcome with astonishment, to surprise. We sometimes hear, especially from the mouths of old people, such expressions as ‘I felt beat,’ ‘I was quite beat,’ i. e. utterly astonished.
[UK]Dundee Courier 28 Jan. 3/2: Ladies and gentlemen, I confess that I am dead beat by the way in which the psalmody is conducted in this church.
[UK]R. Rowe Picked Up in the Streets 230: I’m fair beat to make out what it is.
[US]P.L. Dunbar ‘The Lawyers’ Ways’ in Lyrics of Lowly Life 47: I’ve been list’nin’ to them lawyers / In the court house up the street, / An’ I’ve come to the conclusion / That I’m most completely beat.
[US]P.L. Dunbar Jest Of Fate (1903) 47: Well, suh, [...] ef you ain’t the beatenes’ man to fin’ out things I evah seen.
[US]E. O’Neill The Movie Man in Ten ‘Lost’ Plays (1995) 190: What you can see in these skirts has got me beat.
[Aus]C.J. Dennis ‘The Boys Out There’ in Digger Smith [Internet] ‘Why do they do it? I dunno,’ / Sez Digger Smith. ‘Yeh got me beat.’.
[Aus]D. Stivens Courtship of Uncle Henry 26: Just sulked got drunk most nights he could had the M.O.s and the psychiatrist beat.

3. depressed, emotionally raw; post 1950s esp. in comb. beat generation.

[US]D. Lamson We Who Are About to Die 194: I’ll bet that kid was very beat.
J. Clellon Holmes in N.Y. Times Mag. 16 Nov. 10/2: It was the face of a Beat Generation... It was John Kerouac...who...several years ago..said ‘You know, this is really a beat generation’. The origins of the word beat are obscure, but the meaning is only too clear to most Americans. More than the feeling of weariness, it implies the feeling of having been used, of being raw. It involves a sort of nakedness of mind.
[US]E. De Roo Big Rumble 116: Larry felt hung-up, completely beat, holed with no way out, treed with no way down.

4. of a thing, worn out, no longer fashionable.

[US]Ramsey & Smith Jazzmen 5: He came from the beat side of town.
[US]D. Burley Orig. Hbk of Harlem Jive 13: Your jive is beat and sour as limes.
[US]Kerouac On the Road (The Orig. Scroll) (2007) 120: The beat yellow windowshades pulled. [Ibid.] 121: He wore a beat sweater and baggy pants.
[US](con. 1958) R. Farina Been Down So Long (1972) 146: Plucked petals, by any other name / would be as beat.
[US]Eble Campus Sl. Nov. 1: beat – old and boring.
[US]Eble Campus Sl. Oct.
[US]Eble Campus Sl. Mar.
Online Sl. Dict. [Internet] beat adj [...] 2. lacking excitement or people. (‘When we got to that party it was beat.’).
[US]Ebonics Primer at www.dolemite.com [Internet] beat Definition: over used. (played out) worn out, not fun. Example: That club’s beat yo.

5. (orig. US black) of people, out of funds.

[US]Pittsburgh Courier (PA) 27 Apr. 7/7: We have all been beat to our socks [...] When you fall into a scoff pad and you are beat for a rough or so, play the high-speiler.
[US]Cab Calloway New Hepsters Dict. in Calloway (1976) 253: beat (adj.): [...] (2) lacking anything. Ex., ‘I am beat for my cash’; ‘I am beat to my socks’ (lacking everything).
[US](con. early 1930s) C. McKay Harlem Glory (1990) 42: ‘You’re a bum [...] and you are beat.’.
[US]Kramer & Karr Teen-Age Gangs 49: And I’m clean beat. Got hardly enough to eat on.
[US](con. 1940s–60s) Décharné Straight from the Fridge Dad.

6. (US drugs) adulterated.

Hal Ellson Duke 3: You only get mad when you get beat stuff, stuff that’s no good.
[US]W. Brown Monkey On My Back (1954) 44: They bought some junk from a cat in the park, but it was real beat stuff (highly adulterated).
[US]W. Brown Teen-Age Mafia 7: When I go to a pusher, do you think he dares hand me any beat stuff?
[US]L. Block Diet of Treacle (2008) 95: It’s good stuff [...] Your customers will dig it. You never get beat stuff from the Mau–Mau.

7. (US) useless, worthless, boring.

[US]‘William Lee’ Junkie (1966) 110: The others were a beat, nowhere bunch of people.
[US]Eble Campus Sl. Mar. 1: beat – undesirable, in bad taste, boring: That was really a beat party.
[US]Eble Campus Sl. Sept.

8. (orig. US) disillusioned, sad, world-weary.

[US]W. Burroughs letter 19 Feb. in Harris (1993) 11: What they want is some beat clerk who feels with some reason that other people don’t like him.
[US]Kerouac On The Road (1972) 59: The beat and evil days that come to young guys in their twenties.
[UK]R.A. Norton Through Beatnik Eyeballs 13: They not hipsters, you understand, just beat.

9. (US drugs) of an addict, craving for a dose of a drug.

Hal Ellson Golden Spike 21: ‘Are you beat?’ Chico asked. ‘No, I had me a fix.’ [Ibid.] glossary: Beat – ‘sick.’ In need of the drug.

10. of objects, shabby, battered, worn-out.

[US]Kerouac On The Road (1972) 19: The beat yellow windowshades pulled over the smoky scene of the railyards.
[US]R. Price Ladies’ Man (1985) 212: He wore [...] a green beat-to-shit corduroy jacket that wasn’t doing dick about the cold.

11. (US campus) bad, depressing.

[US]Eble Campus Sl. Oct. 1: beat – not good: ‘I failed my exam today.’ ‘Man that’s beat.’.

12. (US campus) very ugly.

[US]P. Munro Sl. U. 3: That chick is so beat that she’s been mistaken for Mike Tyson.
OnLine Dict. of Playground Sl. [Internet] Beat adj. An incredibly ugly woman, e.g. That chick was BEAT! Possible from the shortened phrase ‘looks like she was beaten with the ugly stick’, or simply looked like a boxer!
[US]C. Eble (ed.) UNC-CH Campus Sl. 2011.

13. (US campus) stupid, weak, ineffectual.

[US]P. Munro Sl. U. 33: beat [...] stupid, lame.

In phrases

beat for (adj.)

1. short of, usu. money.

[US]D. Burley Orig. Hbk of Harlem Jive 17: Shortly after, the skull came up on the tab action, and gassed the scribe that he was beat for some beater.
[US]H. Selby Jr Last Exit to Brooklyn (1966) 6: It was a drag of a night, beat for loot, and they flipped their cigarettes out the doors.

2. to be deprived of.

[US]M. Braly On the Yard (2002) 94: That’s one box I hope I get beat for.
[US]‘Iceberg Slim’ Pimp 61: It’s better to get beat for the stash than beat by the heat.
beat for the yolk (adj.)

(US black/Harlem) short of cash, temporarily impoverished.

[US]D. Burley Orig. Hbk of Harlem Jive 16: I’m beat for the yolk, and dying to meet some folk who’ll be with it on the knock play.
E. Brawley The Rap 53: I been beat for the yolk all my live-long days, scoffing fishheads and scrambling for the gills.
beat to the ass (adj.) [ass n. (2)]

(US) extremely exhausted.

[US]T. Whitmore Memphis-Nam-Sweden 165: Hoof it. All the way back to the hotel. No food, no sleep. We were beat to the ass.
D. Close Deadly Woods 92: Problem is, the chopper pilot is beat to the ass.
beat to the socks (adj.) (also beat to the heels)

(US black) tired out, utterly exhausted.

[US]Esquire 2 98/2: Beat to the socks (penniless).
[US]Pic (N.Y.) Mar. 8: beat to the socks. — all fogged out. Prima’s band falls apart between sessions.
[US]Z.N. Hurston ‘Story in Harlem Sl.’ in Novels and Stories (1995) 1002: Didn’t I see you last night with dat beat chick, scoffing a hot dog? Dat chick you had was beat to de heels.
[US]Hughes & Bontemps Book of Negro Folklore 481: beat: Bad looking, depressed, tired. I’m beat to my sox.