Idioms

    beat all, Informal. to surpass anything of a similar nature, especially in an astonishing or outrageous way: The way he came in here and ordered us around beats all!
    beat a retreat. retreat(def 12).
    beat around/about the bush. bush1(def 16).
    beat it, Informal. to depart; go away: He was pestering me, so I told him to beat it.
    beat the air/wind, to make repeated futile attempts.
    beat the rap. rap1(def 17).
    off one's beat, outside of one's routine, general knowledge, or range of experience: He protested that nonobjective art was off his beat.
    on the beat, in the correct rhythm or tempo: By the end of the number they were all finally playing on the beat.

Origin of beat

before 900; Middle English beten, Old English bēatan; cognate with Old Norse bauta, Middle Low German bōten, Old High German bōzzan; akin to MIr búalaim I hit, Latin fūstis a stick < *bheud-
Related formsbeat·a·ble, adjectiveo·ver·beat, verb, o·ver·beat, o·ver·beat·en or o·ver·beat, o·ver·beat·ing.un·der·beat, noun
Can be confusedbeat beet

Synonyms for beat

Synonym study

1. Beat, hit, pound, strike, thrash refer to the giving of a blow or blows. Beat implies the giving of repeated blows: to beat a rug. To hit is usually to give a single blow, definitely directed: to hit a ball. To pound is to give heavy and repeated blows, often with the fist: to pound a nail, the table. To strike is to give one or more forceful blows suddenly or swiftly: to strike a gong. To thrash implies inflicting repeated blows as punishment, to show superior strength, and the like: to thrash a child. 22. See pulsate.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019


British Dictionary definitions for beat the air

beat

verb beats, beating, beat, beaten or beat

(when intr, often foll by against, on , etc) to strike with or as if with a series of violent blows; dash or pound repeatedly (against)
(tr) to punish by striking; flog
to move or cause to move up and down; flapthe bird beat its wings heavily
(intr) to throb rhythmically; pulsateher heart beat fast
(tr) to make (one's way) by or as if by blowsshe beat her way out of the crowd
(tr sometimes foll by up) cookery to stir or whisk (an ingredient or mixture) vigorously
(tr sometimes foll by out) to shape, make thin, or flatten (a piece of metal) by repeated blows
(tr) music to indicate (time) by the motion of one's hand, baton, etc, or by the action of a metronome
(when tr , sometimes foll by out) to produce (a sound or signal) by or as if by striking a drum
to sound or cause to sound, by or as if by beatingbeat the drums!
to overcome (an opponent) in a contest, battle, etc
(tr ; often foll by back, down, off etc) to drive, push, or thrust
(tr) to arrive or finish before (someone or something); anticipate or forestallthey set off early to beat the rush hour
(tr) to form (a path or track) by repeatedly walking or riding over it
to scour (woodlands, coverts, or undergrowth) so as to rouse game for shooting
(tr) slang to puzzle or baffleit beats me how he can do that
(intr) physics (of sounds or electrical signals) to combine and produce a pulsating sound or signal
(intr) nautical to steer a sailing vessel as close as possible to the direction from which the wind is blowing
(tr) slang, mainly US to cheat or defraudhe beat his brother out of the inheritance
beat about the bush to avoid the point at issue; prevaricate
beat a retreat to withdraw or depart in haste
beat it slang (often imperative) to go away
beat one's breast See breast (def. 10)
beat someone's brains out slang to kill by knocking severely about the head
beat someone to it informal to reach a place or achieve an objective before someone else
beat the bounds British (formerly) to define the boundaries of a parish by making a procession around them and hitting the ground with rods
can you beat it? or can you beat that? slang an expression of utter amazement or surprise

noun

a stroke or blow
the sound made by a stroke or blow
a regular sound or stroke; throb
  1. an assigned or habitual round or route, as of a policeman or sentry
  2. (as modifier)beat police officers
the basic rhythmic unit in a piece of music, usually grouped in twos, threes, or fours
  1. pop or rock music characterized by a heavy rhythmic beat
  2. (as modifier)a beat group
physics the low regular frequency produced by combining two sounds or electrical signals that have similar frequencies
horology the impulse given to the balance wheel by the action of the escapement
prosody the accent, stress, or ictus in a metrical foot
nautical a course that steers a sailing vessel as close as possible to the direction from which the wind is blowing
  1. the act of scouring for game by beating
  2. the organized scouring of a particular woodland so as to rouse the game in it
  3. the woodland where game is so roused
short for beatnik
fencing a sharp tap with one's blade on an opponent's blade to deflect it
(modifier, often capital) of, characterized by, or relating to the Beat Generationa beat poet; beat philosophy

adjective

(postpositive) slang totally exhausted
See also beat down, beat up
Derived Formsbeatable, adjective

Word Origin for beat

Old English bēatan; related to Old Norse bauta, Old High German bōzan
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 beat the air

beat

n.

c.1300, "a beating, whipping; the beating of a drum," from beat (v.). As "throb of the heart" from 1755. Meaning "regular route travelled by someone" is attested from 1731, also "a track made by animals" (1736), from the sense of the "beat" of the feet on the ground (late Old English), or perhaps that in beat the bushes to flush game (c.1400), or beat the bounds (1560s). Extended to journalism by 1875. Musical sense is by 1842, perhaps from the motion of the conductor and the notion of "beating the time":

It is usual, in beating the time of a piece of music, to mark or signalize the commencement of every measure by a downward movement or beat of the hand, or of any other article that may be used for the purpose .... ["Godfrey Weber's General Music Teacher," 1842]

Earlier in music it meant a sort of grace note:

BEAT, in music, a transient grace note, struck immediately before the note it is intended to ornament. The beat always lies half a note beneath its principal, and should be heard so closely upon it, that they may almost seem to be struck together. ["The British Encyclopedia," London, 1809]

beat

adj.

"defeated, overcome by effort," c.1400, from past tense of beat (v.). Meaning "tired, exhausted," is by 1905, American English.

beat

v.

Old English beatan "inflict blows on, thrash" (class VII strong verb; past tense beot, past participle beaten), from Proto-Germanic *bautan (cf. Old Norse bauta, Old High German bozan "to beat"), from PIE root *bhau- "to strike" (see batter (v.)). Of the heart, c.1200, from notion of it striking against the breast. Meaning "to overcome in a contest" is from 1610s (the source of the sense of "legally avoid, escape" in beat the charges, etc., attested from c.1920 in underworld slang).

Past tense beat is from c.1500, probably not from Old English but a shortening of Middle English beted. Dead-beat (originally "tired-out") preserves the old past participle. Meaning "strike cover to rouse or drive game" (c.1400) is source of beat around the bush (1570s), the metaphoric sense of which has shifted from "make preliminary motions" to "avoid, evade." Command beat it "go away" first recorded 1906 (though "action of feet upon the ground" was a sense of Old English betan). To beat off "masturbate" is recorded by 1960s. For beat generation see beatnik.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Medicine definitions for beat the air

beat

[bēt]

v.

To strike repeatedly.
To pulsate; throb.

n.

A stroke, impulse, or pulsation, especially one that produces a sound as of the heart or pulse.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Science definitions for beat the air

beat

[bēt]

A fluctuation or pulsation, usually repeated, in the amplitude of a signal. Beats are generally produced by the superposition of two waves of different frequencies; if the signals are audible, this results in fluctuations between louder and quieter sound.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Idioms and Phrases with beat the air

beat the air

Also, beat the wind. Continue to make futile attempts, fight to no purpose. For example, The candidates for office were so much alike that we thought our vote amounted to beating the air. These phrases call up a vivid image of someone flailing away at nothing. [Late 1300s]

beat

In addition to the idioms beginning with beat

  • beat a dead horse
  • beat all
  • beat a path to someone's door
  • beat a retreat
  • beat around the bush
  • beat back
  • beat down
  • beaten track
  • beat hollow
  • beat into one's head
  • beat it
  • beat off
  • beat one's brains out
  • beat one's head against the wall
  • beat out
  • beats me
  • beat someone at his or her own game
  • beat the air
  • beat the band
  • beat the bushes for
  • beat the clock
  • beat the drum for
  • beat the Dutch
  • beat the living daylights out of
  • beat the meat
  • beat the pants off
  • beat the rap
  • beat time
  • beat to it
  • beat up

also see:

  • dead beat
  • heart misses a beat
  • if you can't beat them, join them
  • march to a different beat
  • miss a beat
  • off the beaten track
  • pound the pavement (a beat)
  • to beat the band
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.