Brewer's: Beat

A track, line, or appointed range. A walk often trodden or beaten by the feet, as a policeman's boat. The word means a beaten path.

Not in my beat.
Not in my line; not in the range of my talents or inclination. Off his beat. Not on duty; not in his appointed walk; not his speciality or line.

“Off his own beat his opinions were of no value.” —Emerson: English Traite, chap. i.

On his beat.
In his appointed walk; on duty.

Out of his beat.
In his wrong walk; out of his proper sphere. To beat up one's quarters. To hunt out where one lives; to visit without ceremony. A military term, signifying to make an unexpected attack on an enemy in camp.

“To beat up the quarters of some of our less-known relations.” —Lamb: Essays of Elta.

(To ). To strike. (Anglo-Saxon, beatan.)

To beat an alarm.
To give notice of danger by beat of drum.

To beat
or drum a thing into one. To repeat as a drummer repeats his strokes on a drum. To beat a retreat (French, battre en retraite); to beat to arms; to beat a charge. Military terms similar to the above.

To beat the air.
To strike out at nothing, merely to bring one's muscles into play, as pugilists do before they begin to fight; to toil without profit, to work to no purpose. “So fight I, not as one that beateth the air.” - I Cor. ix. 26.

To beat the bush.
One beat the bush and another caught the hare. “Il a battu les buissons, et autre a pris les oiseaux.” “Il bat le buisson sans prendre les oisillons” is a slightly different idea, meaning he has toiled in vain. “Other men laboured, and ye are entered into their labours” (John iv. 48). The allusion is to beaters, whose business it is to beat the bushes and start the game for a shooting party.

To beat the Devil's Tattoo.
(See Tattoo.)

To beat the Dutch.
To draw a very long bow; to say something very incredible.

“Well! if that don't beat the Dutch!”

To beat time.
To mark time in music by beating or moving the hands, feet, or a wand. To beat up supporters. To hunt them up or call them together, as soldiers are by beat of drum.

(To ). To overcome or get the better of. This does not mean to strike, which is the Anglo-Saxon beátan, but to better, to be better, from the Anglo-Saxon verb bétan.

Dead beat.
So completely beaten or worsted as to have no leg to stand on. Like a dead man with no fight left in him; quite tired out.

“I'm dead beat, but I thought I'd like to come in and see you all once more.” —Roe: Without a Home, p. 32.

Dead beat escapement
(of a watch). One in which there is no reverse motion of the escape-wheel. That beats Banagher. Wonderfully inconsistent and absurd—exceedingly ridiculous. Banagher is a town in Ireland, on the Shannon, in King's County. It formerly sent two members to Parliament, and was, of course, a famous pocket borough. When a member spoke of a family borough where every voter was a man employed by the lord, it was not unusual to reply, “Well, that beats Banagher.”

“ `Well,' says he, `to gratify them I will. So just a morsel. But, Jack, this beats Bannagher' (sic).” —W. B. Yeats: Fairy Tales of the Irish Peasantry, p. 196.

That beats Termagant.
Your ranting, raging promposity, or exaggeration, surpasses that of Termagant (q.v.). To beat hollow is to beat wholly, to be wholly the superior.

To beat up against the wind.
To tack against an adverse wind; to get the better of the wind.

(French, abattre, to abate.)

To beat down.
To make a seller “abate” his price.
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894

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