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beat time

Mark musical time by beating a drum, clapping, tapping the foot, or a similar means. For example, Even as a baby, Dave always beat time when he heard music. [ Late 1600s ]
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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Examples from the Web for beat time
Historical Examples
  • Captain Eben held an open hymn book back in one hand and beat time with the other.

    Keziah Coffin Joseph C. Lincoln
  • The eight strained forward, and the coxswain began to beat time.

    Ruth Fielding At College Alice B. Emerson
  • She seemed sitting there ready to beat time to his applause, nod her head to it as to a childish strain of jigging music.

    The Woman With The Fan Robert Hichens
  • When they got near shore, they all began to dance, clapping their hands to beat time.

    The Philippine Islands John Foreman
  • See him beat time with unvarying count and catch up the next note true and steady, as if no breaking place had come in between.

    The Optimist's Good Morning Florence Hobart Perin
  • She was dancing rather than walking, and with her left hand she beat time to the music.

    Novel Notes Jerome K. Jerome
  • He (my informant) then played some marching airs, and instantly the other raised his head and began to beat time with both feet.

  • Rose beat time for her sister mockingly, and they answered in singsong.

    Otherwise Phyllis Meredith Nicholson
  • The old men sitting by the fire watched the younger ones with enjoyment, and beat time with their heads, repeating the refrains.

  • The hoof-strokes of the mare seemed to beat time to the verse.

    Lone Pine R. B. (Richard Baxter) Townshend

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