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[beg-er] /ˈbɛg ər/
a person who begs alms or lives by begging.
a penniless person.
a wretched fellow; rogue:
the surly beggar who collects the rents.
a child or youngster (usually preceded by little):
a sudden urge to hug the little beggar.
verb (used with object)
to reduce to utter poverty; impoverish:
The family had been beggared by the war.
to cause one's resources of or ability for (description, comparison, etc.) to seem poor or inadequate:
The costume beggars description.
1175-1225; Middle English beggare, beggere. See beg1, -er1, -ar3
Related forms
beggarhood, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples from the web for beggars
  • The plasticity and adaptability of the human mind beggars belief.
  • The non-beggar pups might beg a little but will be much more shy than the beggars.
  • Peddlers and beggars rush up to vehicles stalled in gas lines.
  • He had a head which statuaries loved to copy, and a foot the deformity of which the beggars in the streets mimicked.
  • Join to them also sturdy and valiant beggars, cloaking their idle life under the colour of some disease or sickness.
  • It's you who want to introduce beggars into my family.
  • For their part, regulators know that beggars can't be choosers.
  • There is a wise old proverb about beggars and choosers.
  • But a swelling army of beggars badgers drivers at crossroads.
  • Do not give money to the beggars because they could be a fraud.
British Dictionary definitions for beggars


a person who begs, esp one who lives by begging
a person who has no money or resources; pauper
(ironic, jocular, mainly Brit) fellow: lucky beggar!
verb (transitive)
to be beyond the resources of (esp in the phrase to beggar description)
to impoverish; reduce to begging
Derived Forms
beggarhood, beggardom, noun
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin and History for beggars



c.1200, from Old French begart, originally a member of the Beghards, lay brothers of mendicants in the Low Countries, from Middle Dutch beggaert "mendicant," of uncertain origin, with pejorative suffix (see -ard). Cf. Beguine. Early folk etymology connected the English word with bag. Form with -ar attested from 14c., but begger was more usual 15c.-17c. The feminine form beggestere is attested as a surname from c.1300. Beggar's velvet was an old name for "dust bunnies." "Beggers should be no choosers" is in Heywood (1562).


"reduce to poverty," mid-15c., from beggar (n.). Related: Beggared; beggaring. Figurative use by 1640s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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