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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.

Slang. to complain; grumble.
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.

Contemporary Examples

In April, the new democratically elected South Korean President, Lee Myung Bak lifted a ban on imported American beef.
The Internet Is Bad For You Andrew Keen December 18, 2008

This miniaturized gym routine enabled the scientists to grow usable quantities of bovine muscle—otherwise known as beef.
The $330,000 Fake Burger Nico Hines August 4, 2013

She would cook all these 1950s dishes like beef Wellington, scalloped potatoes.
Extra Virgin: The Sauciest Show on TV Marlow Stern April 5, 2011

The government needs to stop borrowing, start saving, and beef up socioeconomic programs.
The Price of Recovery Robert Hormats February 23, 2009

You care about where your eggs and beef and lettuce come from, but what about your pot?
How Green Is Your Green? Pot’s Terrible Environmental Record Emily Brady July 6, 2013

Historical Examples

Saxe Gotha responded to the greeting with a puppy gambol, and devoured the beef with gusto.
Wisconsin in Story and Song; Various

A roast of beef meant a visit, in Dr. Ed’s modest-paying clientele.
K Mary Roberts Rinehart

What a delightful thing if the English would make other kinds of sausages as well as their beef and pork ones!
The Belgian Cookbook Various

Falling in with an American in the Bay of Biscay, we got a barrel of beef which lasted us in.
Ned Myers James Fenimore Cooper

Our mess had laid in a supply early in the morning: six chickens, a beef and a goose was our stock for eight men.
An Artilleryman’s Diary Jenkin Lloyd Jones

the flesh of various bovine animals, esp the cow, when killed for eating
(pl) beeves (biːvz). an adult ox, bull, cow, etc, reared for its meat
(informal) human flesh, esp when muscular
(pl) beefs. a complaint
(intransitive) (slang) to complain, esp repeatedly: he was beefing about his tax
(informal) (transitive) often foll by up. to strengthen; reinforce

c.1300, from Old French buef “ox; beef; ox hide” (11c., Modern French boeuf), from Latin bovem (nominative bos, genitive bovis) “ox, cow,” from PIE root *gwou- “cow, ox, bull” (see cow (n.)). Original plural was beeves.

“to complain,” slang, 1888, American English, 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.


A complaint; grievance: Her mother called up to register a beef (1890s+)
A criminal charge or indictment: ”What was your beef, Jim?” ”Robbery” (1910+ Underworld)
A quarrel; argument: I’ve got no beef with you, buddy (1930s+)
A customer’s bill or check; bad news, the DAMAGE (1930s+)
Muscle; strength; huskiness (mid-1800s+)
Bulkiness; fleshiness; mass: The old chorus girls had lots of beef, not like now (mid-1800s+)
The penis (1890+)


: The hospital beefed when the city announced plans (1880s+)
To quarrel: We started beefing with each other (1930s+)

In addition to the idiom beginning with beef


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