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


  • IPA(key): /ˈbiːstli/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -iːstli


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

  1. (UK) Pertaining to, or having the form, nature, or habits of, a beast.
  2. (UK) Similar to the nature of a beast; contrary to the nature and dignity of human beings.
    Synonyms: brutal, filthy
    beastly culture
  3. (UK, dated) Abominable; very unpleasant.
    beastly weather
    Stop being so beastly to her!
    • 1904, Edith Nesbit, The New Treasure Seekers, Chapter 1:
      And all the time, whenever we went to the Cedars, there was all sorts of silly fuss going on about the beastly wedding; boxes coming from London with hats and jackets in, and wedding presents—all glassy and silvery, or else brooches and chains—and clothes sent down from London to choose from.
  4. Powerful, having a powerful appearance (of computing hardware)

Usage notes[edit]

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


Derived terms[edit]



beastly (comparative more beastly, superlative most beastly)

  1. Like a beast; brutishly.
    • 1590, Edmund Spenser, “Book III, Canto VIII”, in The Faerie Queene. [], London: [] [John Wolfe] for William Ponsonbie, →OCLC:
      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.