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  1. any nonhuman animal, especially a large, four-footed mammal.
  2. the crude animal nature common to humans and the lower animals: Hunger brought out the beast in him.
  3. a cruel, coarse, filthy, or otherwise beastlike person.
  4. a live creature, as distinguished from a plant: What manner of beast is this?
  5. the beast, the Antichrist. Rev. 13:18.

Origin of beast

1175–1225; Middle English be(e)ste < Old French beste (French bête) < Latin bēstia
Related formsbeast·like, adjective

Synonyms for beast

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Synonym study

1. See animal. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for beast

Contemporary Examples of beast

Historical Examples of beast

  • He is a wondrous large and strong man, with no ruth for man, woman, or beast.

    The White Company

    Arthur Conan Doyle

  • A man is but a beast as he lives from day to day, eating and drinking, breathing and sleeping.

    The White Company

    Arthur Conan Doyle

  • It is used by their prickers and huntsmen when the beast hath not fled, but is still in its lair.

    The White Company

    Arthur Conan Doyle

  • The voice, too, when he spoke, was as deep and as fierce as the growl of a beast of prey.

    The White Company

    Arthur Conan Doyle

  • "It's the nature of the beast to run crazy," pursued Kingozi tranquilly.

    The Leopard Woman

    Stewart Edward White

British Dictionary definitions for beast


  1. any animal other than man, esp a large wild quadruped
  2. savage nature or characteristicsthe beast in man
  3. a brutal, uncivilized, or filthy person
  1. (tr) military slang, slang, mainly British to punish or torture (someone) in a manner that involves excessive physical exercise

Word Origin for beast

C13: from Old French beste, from Latin bestia, of obscure origin
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 beast

c.1200, from Old French beste "animal, wild beast," figuratively "fool, idiot" (11c., Modern French bête), from Vulgar Latin *besta, from Latin bestia "beast, wild animal," of unknown origin. Used to translate Latin animal. Replaced Old English deor (see deer) as the generic word for "wild creature," only to be ousted 16c. by animal. Of persons felt to be animal-like in various senses from early 13c. Of the figure in the Christian apocalypse story from late 14c.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper