1. on her beam-ends, Nautical. heeled so far on one side that the deck is practically vertical: The schooner was blown over on her beam-ends.
  2. on one's/the beam-ends, Slang. in desperate straits, especially financial straits.Also on the beam's ends.

Origin of beam-ends

First recorded in 1765–75 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for beam-ends

Historical Examples of beam-ends

  • Why, sir, just to report one flag struck, and a commander-in-chief on his beam-ends.

    The Two Admirals

    J. Fenimore Cooper

  • Crewe picked him up at Monte Carlo, when he was on his beam-ends.

    Jack O' Judgment

    Edgar Wallace

  • But there were no masts now to hold the wind, so she stood up on her beam-ends.

    Labrador Days

    Wilfred Thomason Grenfell

  • Hove so completely over the beam-ends that the keel is above the water.

    The Sailor's Word-Book

    William Henry Smyth

  • Two other vessels had been driven higher on shore, but lay on their beam-ends.

    Paddy Finn

    W. H. G. Kingston

British Dictionary definitions for beam-ends


pl n
  1. the ends of a vessel's beams
  2. on her beam-ends (of a vessel) heeled over through an angle of 90°
  3. on one's beam-ends
    1. out of resources; destitute
    2. desperate
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