Nautical. the ends of the transverse deck beams of a vessel.
on her beam-ends, Nautical. heeled so far on one side that the deck is practically vertical:
The schooner was blown over on her beam-ends.
on one’s / the beam-ends, Slang. in desperate straits, especially financial straits.
Also, on the beam’s ends.
Historical Examples

If we head back for the land we may be thrown on our beam-ends, I will say.
The Campfire Girls on Station Island Margaret Penrose

Crewe picked him up at Monte Carlo, when he was on his beam-ends.
Jack O’ Judgment Edgar Wallace

The vessel had encountered bad weather; her ballast had shifted, and she lay on her beam-ends about eight miles west of St Kilda.
Chambers’s Journal of Popular Literature, Science, and Art, No. 700 Various

Hove so completely over the beam-ends that the keel is above the water.
The Sailor’s Word-Book William Henry Smyth

They could see that the wreck was a small vessel on her beam-ends.
The Floating Light of the Goodwin Sands R.M. Ballantyne

Two other vessels had been driven higher on shore, but lay on their beam-ends.
Paddy Finn W. H. G. Kingston

For already the men had planned, if the slightest chance offered, to try and get the masts out while she lay on her beam-ends.
Labrador Days Wilfred Thomason Grenfell

Over went the schooner, till she lay helplessly on her beam-ends.
Mark Seaworth William H.G. Kingston

“Knocks you on to your beam-ends,” suggested Captain Bontnor.
The Grey Lady Henry Seton Merriman

I sprang on deck, and found that a squall had thrown the vessel on her beam-ends.
Hurricane Hurry W.H.G. Kingston

plural noun
the ends of a vessel’s beams
on her beam-ends, (of a vessel) heeled over through an angle of 90°
on one’s beam-ends

out of resources; destitute


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