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From Middle English beeste, beste, from Old French beste (French: bête), from Latin bēstia (animal, beast); many cognates – see bēstia.



beast (plural beasts)

  1. Any animal other than a human; usually only applied to land vertebrates, especially large or dangerous four-footed ones.
  2. (more specific)  A domestic animal, especially a bovine farm animal.
    • Boxer was an enormous beast, nearly eighteen hands high, and as strong as any two ordinary horses put together.
    • 1963, Margery Allingham, chapter 7, in The China Governess[1]:
      ‘Children crawled over each other like little grey worms in the gutters,’ he said. ‘The only red things about them were their buttocks and they were raw. Their faces looked as if snails had slimed on them and their mothers were like great sick beasts whose byres had never been cleared. […]’
  3. A person who behaves in a violent, antisocial or uncivilized manner.
  4. (slang) A large and impressive thing or structure.
  5. (slang) Someone who is particularly impressive, especially athletically or physically.
  6. (slang, prisons) A sex offender.
    • 1994, Elaine Player, Michael Jenkins, Prisons After Woolf: Reform Through Riot (page 190)
      Shouts had been heard: 'We're coming to kill you, beasts.' In desperation, Rule 43s had tried to barricade their doors []
    • 1994, Adam Sampson, Acts of Abuse: Sex Offenders And the Criminal Justice System, page 83:
      For many prisoners and in many prisons, antipathy towards 'nonces' or 'beasts' is little more than an idea []
  7. (figuratively) Something unpleasant and difficult.
    • 2000, Tom Clancy, The Bear and the Dragon, Berkley (2001), ISBN 9780425180969, page 905:
      [] Even unopposed, the natural obstacles are formidable, and defending his line of advance will be a beast of a problem."
    • 2006, Heather Burt, Adam's Peak, Dundurn Press (2006), ISBN 9781550026467, page 114:
      He'd be in the hospital a few days — broken collarbone, a cast on his arm, a beast of a headache — but fine.
    • 2011, Florence + the Machine, "What the Water Gave Me", Ceremonials:
      And, oh, poor Atlas / The world's a beast of a burden / You've been holding up a long time

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The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout#Translations.

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beast (third-person singular simple present beasts, present participle beasting, simple past and past participle beasted)

  1. (Britain, military) to impose arduous exercises, either as training or as punishment.


beast (comparative more beast, superlative most beast)

  1. (slang) great; excellent; powerful
    • 1999, "Jason Chue", AMD K6-2 350mhz, FIC VA503+, LGS 64mb PC100 sdram (on newsgroup jaring.pcbase)
      There is another type from Siemens which is the HYB 39S64XXX(AT/ATL) -8B version (notice the "B" and the end) which is totally beast altogether.
    • 2012, Katie McGarry, Pushing the Limits, page 37:
      Translation: a piece of crap, but the rest of the car was totally beast.