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beef-up

[beef-uhp]
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noun
  1. an act or instance of strengthening or reinforcing.

Origin of beef-up

noun use of verb phrase beef up

beef

[beef]
noun, plural beeves [beevz] /bivz/ for 2; beefs for 4.
  1. the flesh of a cow, steer, or bull raised and killed for its meat.
  2. an adult cow, steer, or bull raised for its meat.
  3. Informal.
    1. brawn; muscular strength.
    2. strength; power.
    3. weight, as of a person.
    4. human flesh.
  4. Slang.
    1. a complaint.
    2. an argument or dispute.
verb (used without object)
  1. Slang. to complain; grumble.
Verb Phrases
  1. beef up,
    1. to add strength, numbers, force, etc., to; strengthen: During the riots, the nighttime patrol force was beefed up with volunteers.
    2. to increase or add to: to beef up our fringe benefits.

Origin of beef

1250–1300; 1885–90 for def 5; Middle English < Anglo-French beof, Old French boef < Latin bov- (stem of bōs) ox, cow; akin to cow1
Related formsbeef·less, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
British Dictionary definitions for beef up

beef

noun
  1. the flesh of various bovine animals, esp the cow, when killed for eating
  2. plural beeves (biːvz) an adult ox, bull, cow, etc, reared for its meat
  3. informal human flesh, esp when muscular
  4. plural beefs a complaint
verb
  1. (intr) slang to complain, esp repeatedlyhe was beefing about his tax
  2. (tr often foll by up) informal to strengthen; reinforce

Word Origin

C13: from Old French boef, from Latin bōs ox; see cow 1
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for beef up

v.

"add strength," 1941, from college slang, from beef (n.) in slang sense of "muscle-power" (1851).

beef

v.

"to complain," slang, 1888, American English, from noun meaning "complaint" (1880s). The noun meaning "argument" is recorded from 1930s. The origin and signification are unclear; perhaps it traces to the common late 19c. complaint of U.S. soldiers about the quantity or quality of beef rations.

beef

n.

c.1300, from Old French buef "ox; beef; ox hide" (11c., Modern French boeuf), from Latin bovem (nominative bos, genitive bovis) "ox, cow," from PIE root *gwou- "cow, ox, bull" (see cow (n.)). Original plural was beeves.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with beef up

beef up

Strengthen, reinforce, as in Mary wants us to beef up her part in the play. This phrase relies on an older slang sense of beef as “muscles” or “power.” [Colloquial; late 1800s]

beef

In addition to the idiom beginning with beef

also see:

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.