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verb (used with object), brow·beat, brow·beat·en, brow·beat·ing.
  1. to intimidate by overbearing looks or words; bully: They browbeat him into agreeing.
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Origin of browbeat

First recorded in 1575–85; brow + beat
Related formsbrow·beat·er, noun


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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words

bully, hector, intimidate, coerce, harass, oppress, badger, cow, frighten, bludgeon, tyrannize, threaten, bulldoze, bluster, domineer, overawe, dragoon, overbear

Examples from the Web for browbeaten

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • Let us, therefore, not be browbeaten by civilization on account of its antiquity.

  • He had learned that the students would not be browbeaten or bullied.

    Breaking Away

    Oliver Optic

  • From that time forth it was recognized that he was not the sort of man to be browbeaten.

  • He was not one to be browbeaten or cheated, and he resolved to fight out the battle.

    Tom, The Bootblack

    Horatio Alger

  • She was a haughty old dame, but she was browbeaten by her maid.

    Mistress Anne

    Temple Bailey

British Dictionary definitions for browbeaten


verb -beats, -beating, -beat or -beaten
  1. (tr) to discourage or frighten with threats or a domineering manner; intimidate
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Derived Formsbrowbeater, noun
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 browbeaten



"to bully," originally "to bear down with stern or arrogant looks," 1580s, from brow + beat (v.).

[I]t appears from the earliest quotations ... that the brow in question was that of the beater, not of the beaten party; but it is not evident whether the meaning was 'to beat with one's (frowning) brows,' or 'to beat (?lower) one's brows at.' [OED]

Related: Browbeaten; browbeating.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper