noun, plural beeves [beevz] , for 2; beefs for 4.
the flesh of a cow, steer, or bull raised and killed for its meat.
an adult cow, steer, or bull raised for its meat.
brawn; muscular strength.
strength; power.
weight, as of a person.
human flesh.
a complaint.
an argument or dispute.
verb (used without object)
Slang. to complain; grumble.
Verb phrases
beef up,
to add strength, numbers, force, etc., to; strengthen: During the riots, the nighttime patrol force was beefed up with volunteers.
to increase or add to: to beef up our fringe benefits.

1250–1300; 1885–90 for def 5; Middle English < Anglo-French beof, Old French boef < Latin bov- (stem of bōs) ox, cow; akin to cow1

beefless, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
beef (biːf)
n , beeves, beefs
1.  the flesh of various bovine animals, esp the cow, when killed for eating
2.  an adult ox, bull, cow, etc, reared for its meat
3.  informal human flesh, esp when muscular
4.  a complaint
vb (often foll by up)
5.  slang (intr) to complain, esp repeatedly: he was beefing about his tax
6.  informal to strengthen; reinforce
[C13: from Old French boef, from Latin bōs ox; see cow1]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

c.1300, from O.Fr. buef (11c., Mod.Fr. boeuf), from L. bovem (nom. bos, gen. bovis) "ox, cow," from PIE base *gwou- "cow, ox, bull" (see cow (n.)). Original plural was beeves.

"to complain," slang, 1888, Amer.Eng., from noun meaning "complaint" (1880s). The noun meaning "argument" is recorded from 1930s. The origin and signification are unclear; perhaps it traces to the common late 19c. complaint of U.S. soldiers about the quantity or quality of beef rations.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang Dictionary

beef definition

  1. n.
    a complaint; a quarrel. : I gotta beef against you.
  2. n.
    a criminal charge or complaint. : The beef is that you appear to have left the bank Monday with about seventy-five grand that isn't yours. That's the beef!
  3. n.
    a large and muscular male. : Let's get one of those beefs in here to help.
  4. in.
    to complain. : What's he beefing about now?
  5. in.
    to break wind; to release intestinal gas audibly. (Usually objectionable.) : Willy warned everybody that he was going to beef.
  6. n.
    an act of breaking wind. (Usually objectionable.) : All right! Who's beef was that?
  7. in.
    to crack up and get injured as in a skateboard accident. : Chuck beefed and wrecked his elbow.
Dictionary of American Slang and Colloquial Expressions by Richard A. Spears.Fourth Edition.
Copyright 2007. Published by McGraw-Hill Education.
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases


In addition to the idiom beginning with beef, also see where's the beef.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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Example sentences
If you don't have a lot of experience, you'll need to make that your secondary claim and try to beef it up as much as possible.
If your real beef is with spousal hires, then you might try that for a topic.
Well, they buy factory farmed beef, pay their workers a dismal salary and
  standardize everything.
What's more, the beef from corn-fed cows tends to have more fat.
Idioms & Phrases
Images for beef
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