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From Middle English beestely, bestely, beastliche, equivalent to beast +‎ -ly. Compare West Frisian bistachtich (beastly), Dutch beestachtig (beastly), German biestig (beastly).


beastly (comparative beastlier or more beastly, superlative beastliest or most beastly)

  1. (Britain) Pertaining to, or having the form, nature, or habits of, a beast.
  2. (Britain) Similar to the nature of a beast; contrary to the nature and dignity of man
    Synonyms: brutal, filthy
  3. (Britain, dated) Abominable.
    beastly weather
  4. (of computing hardware) Powerful, having a powerful appearance

Usage notes[edit]

Most often used pejoratively, but sense 4 has predominantly positive connotations. Bestial is more narrow, though also often used pejoratively.




beastly (comparative more beastly, superlative most beastly)

  1. Like a beast; brutishly.
    • 1590, Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene, III.8:
      Beastly he threwe her downe, ne car'd to spill / Her garments gay with scales of fish that all did fill.
    • 1901, The Literary World - Volume 63 - Page 35:
      They have insulted me most beastly. Moreover, they are, everyone of them, black-satan filthmen.
    • 1955, Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita:
      The baths were mostly tiled showers, with an endless variety of spouting mechanisms, but with one definitely non-Laodicean characteristic in common, a propensity, while in use, to turn instantly beastly hot or blindingly cold upon you, depending on whether your neighbor turned on his cold or his hot to deprive you of a necessary complement in the shower you had so carefully blended.