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verb (used with object), begged, beg·ging.
  1. to ask for as a gift, as charity, or as a favor: to beg alms; to beg forgiveness.
  2. to ask (someone) to give or do something; implore: He begged me for mercy. Sit down, I beg you.
  3. to take for granted without basis or justification: a statement that begs the very point we're disputing.
  4. to fail or refuse to come to grips with; avoid; evade: a report that consistently begs the whole problem.
verb (used without object), begged, beg·ging.
  1. to ask alms or charity; live by asking alms.
  2. to ask humbly or earnestly: begging for help; begging to differ.
  3. (of a dog) to sit up, as trained, in a posture of entreaty.
Verb Phrases
  1. beg off, to request or obtain release from an obligation, promise, etc.: He had promised to drive us to the recital but begged off at the last minute.
  1. beg the question, to assume the truth of the very point raised in a question.
  2. go begging, to remain open or available, as a position that is unfilled or an unsold item: The job went begging for lack of qualified applicants.

Origin of beg

before 900; Middle English beggen, by assimilation from Old English *bedican, syncopated variant of bedecian to beg; compare Gothic bidagwa beggar. See bead
Related formshalf-beg·ging, adjectiveun·begged, adjective

Synonyms for beg

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Synonym study

2. Beg and request are used in certain conventional formulas, in the sense of ask. Beg, once a part of many formal expressions used in letter writing, debate, etc., is now used chiefly in such courteous formulas as I beg your pardon; The Committee begs to report, etc. Request, more impersonal and now more formal, is used in giving courteous orders ( You are requested to report ) and in commercial formulas like to request payment. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for begged

Contemporary Examples of begged

Historical Examples of begged

British Dictionary definitions for begged


verb begs, begging or begged
  1. (when intr , often foll by for) to solicit (for money, food, etc), esp in the street
  2. to ask (someone) for (something or leave to do something) formally, humbly, or earnestlyI beg forgiveness; I beg to differ
  3. (intr) (of a dog) to sit up with forepaws raised expectantly
  4. to leave unanswered or unresolvedto beg a point
  5. beg the question
    1. to evade the issue
    2. to assume the thing under examination as proved
    3. to suggest that a question needs to be askedthe firm's success begs the question: why aren't more companies doing the same?
  6. go begging or go a-begging to be unwanted or unused
See also beg off

Word Origin for beg

C13: probably from Old English bedecian; related to Gothic bidagwa beggar


The use of beg the question to mean that a question needs to be asked is considered by some people to be incorrect


  1. a variant of bey
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 begged



c.1200, perhaps from Old English bedecian "to beg," from Proto-Germanic *beth-; or possibly from Anglo-French begger, from Old French begart (see beggar). The Old English word for "beg" was wædlian, from wædl "poverty." Of trained dogs, 1816.

As a courteous mode of asking (beg pardon, etc.), first attested c.1600. To beg the question translates Latin petitio principii, and means "to assume something that hasn't been proven as a basis of one's argument," thus "asking" one's opponent to give something unearned, though more of the nature of taking it for granted without warrant.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with begged


In addition to the idioms beginning with beg

  • beginning of the end, the
  • begin to see daylight
  • begin to see the light
  • begin with
  • beg off
  • beg the question
  • beg to differ

also see:

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