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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.

Historical Examples

But the best dish was a beefs head cooked by friend Minter in Texas fashion.
The Life of Isaac Ingalls Stevens, Volume I (of 2) Hazard Stevens

Fillet of beefs: Cut across diagonally, beginning at thick end.
How to Prepare and Serve a Meal and Interior Decoration Lillian B. Lansdown

Well, I shall never forget the numerous “beefs” he made while posing as an “experienced farm hand.”
Wanderlust Robert R. (Robert Rice) Reynolds

Away and ever away to the south, for the hated “beefs” were after them, coming down relentlessly from the north.
Sketches of the East Africa Campaign Robert Valentine Dolbey

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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