a yeoman of the English royal guard or a warder of the Tower of London.
Informal. an Englishman.
a person who eats beef.

Origin of beefeater

First recorded in 1600–10; beef + eater Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for beefeater

Historical Examples of beefeater

  • The beefeater before the door of the Lady Mary's lodgings spat upon the ground when he had passed.

    The Fifth Queen

    Ford Madox Ford

  • So they would have stood forever, if the Beefeater hadn't come in and commanded them, in the queen's name, to drop their weapons.

    The Librarian at Play

    Edmund Lester Pearson

British Dictionary definitions for beefeater



a nickname often applied to the Yeomen of the Guard and the Yeomen Warders at the Tower of London
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 beefeater

"warder of the Tower of London," 1670s, a contemptuous reference to well-fed servants of the royal household; the notion is of "one who eats another's beef" (cf. Old English hlaf-æta "servant," literally "loaf-eater").

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper