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From Middle English beestely, bestely, beastliche, equivalent to beast +‎ -ly. Compare 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

Usage notes[edit]

Most often used pejoratively. 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.