Main definitions of beak in English

: beak1beak2

beak1

noun

  • 1A bird's horny projecting jaws; a bill.

    ‘a parent bird with a caterpillar in its beak’
    • ‘When a tui or a bellbird pops open a bud, all four petals spring back, and as the bird inserts its beak into the corolla to drink nectar, its head often brushes pollen onto the receptive stigma.’
    • ‘Birds use their beaks to keep their feathers in order; you know this action as preening.’
    • ‘Samshuddin says he watches out for the shape of a bird's tail, beak, nostrils and eyes, all of which have a bearing on singing quality.’
    • ‘The differences between the bills of male and female purple-throats make it hard not to draw parallels to another group of birds with amazingly variable beaks, Darwin's finches.’
    • ‘Unfortunately for some, they bolt right into the beaks of waiting birds.’
    • ‘For example, in some species of woodpecker, the male and female birds have differently shaped beaks, which allows a pair to more efficiently mine a tree for food.’
    • ‘Sandhill Cranes are big birds, with long legs and necks, long pointed beaks, and wingspans which can be over six feet.’
    • ‘As a trombone player pulls in the slide to make a higher frequency sound by reducing the volume of the tube, so does a bird open its beak and pull back its head to reduce the volume of its vocal tract.’
    • ‘These birds have heavy beaks with a distinct hook at the end.’
    • ‘There are now 500 of these large, blue-black birds with yellow beaks and feet, in the centre.’
    • ‘The birds all had black beaks, a sensitive external indicator of the absence of T in the plasma of starlings.’
    • ‘Accipitrids are diurnal birds of prey with broad wings, hooked beaks, strong legs and feet and sharp talons.’
    • ‘Many birds, beaks open, swim in Lines toward the shore, some beating their large wings against the water's surface to drive their prey into the shallows.’
    • ‘The plant's seeds are thought to be distributed, in part, by bird beaks, feet, and digestive systems.’
    • ‘Instead of having teeth, birds have developed beaks.’
    • ‘New research suggests that as testosterone in male birds increases, so does the level of carotenoids, the chemicals that create the bright coloring on birds' feathers, beaks, and legs.’
    • ‘Climbers had to climb the sharp cliffs in strong winds and fend of birds attacking with beaks and wings.’
    • ‘Using its beak, the bird reached for a bud and gave it a quick twist, which released the four petals.’
    • ‘Whether the flightless birds used their beaks to impale or bludgeon their prey is unknown, Chiappe says.’
    • ‘By rapidly opening and closing its beak a bird can alter the damping characteristics of the vocal tract.’
    bill, nib, mandible
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 The horny projecting jaw of animals other than birds, for example a turtle or squid.
      • ‘The big grey animals with sickle-shaped dorsal fins and prominent beaks are bottlenose dolphins (immortalised by Flipper).’
      • ‘It is hard to know whether towing a diver a short distance does any harm to a suitably sized turtle, but I heard from one of my very warmwater Leaks some years ago of a diver losing a finger to the beak of a big, quick-headed turtle.’
      • ‘Contents of the gizzards were separated into otoliths and squid beaks.’
      • ‘The upper and the lower jaws were certainly covered with horny beaks in life, like the beak in turtles and, it can be assumed, in the Triassic rhynchosaurs.’
      • ‘This is enough for Susanna, and she raises her hand gently to halt the turtle and avoid any possible clash between beak and mask.’
      • ‘It has a larger beak than the giant squid and has hooks on its tentacles.’
      • ‘They are characterized by a short snout and the loss of almost all their teeth, which were replaced by a turtle-like beak used for cropping vegetation.’
      • ‘Over the years whalers have reported finding a high number of large squid beaks in the mammals' stomachs, pegging sperm whales as primary predators of large squid.’
      • ‘Giant squid beaks in the stomach of sperm whales are believed to be one of the prime sources for ambergris, a valuable substance used in making perfume.’
      • ‘This squid has one of the largest beaks known of any squid and also has unique swivelling hooks on the clubs at the ends of its tentacles.’
      • ‘The whalers often discovered giant squid beaks inside the stomachs of these whales.’
      • ‘You can eat everything on a squid but the beak, shell, and eyes.’
      • ‘Just above the squid's eyes is a hard ball, called the beak, which creates a slight bulge.’
      • ‘The tropical animals had longer beaks and a different color patterning on the head; their calves had white rather than dark flanks.’
    2. 1.2informal A person's nose.
      ‘she can't wait to stick her beak in’
      • ‘She was also lucky she didn't have daddy's beak nose that Mauve had.’
      • ‘Yesterday, on the Edgware Road, I saw an elderly man with an impressive beak of a nose.’
      • ‘A jutting beak of a nose, sharp chin and deep-set eyes gave him the appearance of a living skull.’
      • ‘Do the inhabitants of North Korean gulags take comfort that the hegemonic monster of US imperialism is unable to stick its beak into the criminal justice system they were sentenced under.’
      • ‘The vicious girlfriends are smart enough to realize how terribly they've behaved, but their solution is simply to stick their beaks into Kate's affairs again.’
      • ‘If there are areas that this Government needs to stick its nosy beak into, maybe it should focus on those areas, because many of those people are its own core members.’
      • ‘His nose is still the defiant beak it was when I first met him, when we were both thirteen and bullied at a new and ghastly school.’
      • ‘Heavy brows converge into a huge beak of a nose which hovers over thick lips smothered by a huge moustache.’
      • ‘I both blind them with my beak nose and am their blind spot.’
      • ‘The whole group of servants tried to stifle their giggles but Aimée's mother turned and shot an evil glare at them over her beak of a nose.’
      • ‘Wolfen felt the man would stick out in a crowd like a sore thumb, with his long beak of a nose.’
      • ‘A more contemporary critical reading of The Nose leads us to Pinocchio, whose own beak was known to grow in proportion to the telling of tall tales.’
      • ‘Cyril has stuck his beak in controversy throughout his career.’
      • ‘Fielding is something beautiful too: crow's beak for a nose, rock star hair, but that of a girl rock star; he could be the great, lost fifth member of The Runaways.’
    3. 1.3 A projection at the prow of an ancient warship, typically shaped to resemble the head of a bird or other animal, used to pierce the hulls of enemy ships.
      • ‘The designs on Bronze Age metalwork and rock carvings show boats with a beak at the prow.’
      • ‘The corvus crashed downward, its beak driving into the other ship's deck, whereupon Roman infantry dashed across.’
      • ‘‘Heads’ was the name given to that part of sailing ships forward of the forecastle and around the beak which was used by the crew as their lavatory.’
      • ‘The Eagle then hit a docked hydrofoil, cracking the beak of its wooden figurehead.’
      • ‘The main weapon for ramming into enemy ships was the beak of the ship.’

Origin

Middle English: from Old French bec, from Latin beccus, of Celtic origin.

Pronunciation

beak

/biːk/

Main definitions of beak in English

: beak1beak2

beak2

noun

British
informal
  • A magistrate or a schoolmaster.

    • ‘But the union beaks decreed that because the league regulations were drawn up under English legal guidelines, they had the right to ‘prosecute’ the player under their own procedure.’
    • ‘In order to help out I moved from the fines court to the Magistrates Court next door and went up before the beak, or beakess on this occasion.’
    • ‘He lives under Newham Council's jurisdiction, so credit to the council for taking Thames Water to task and getting them before the beak.’
    • ‘That seems a good point to me, particularly in views of recent court cases where greengrocers were up before the beaks just because they sold fruit and veg in pounds when legislation now rules that goods must be sold in metric units.’
    • ‘Presumably you would have to be hauled before the beak and convicted of something before your licence was revoked.’
    • ‘Having been up in front of the beaks myself on suspicion of failing to obtain the best possible placing, I'm not about to start a campaign for real jockeys to be carpeted for being beaten in races they should have won.’
    • ‘And those sent down will be told by the beak: ‘I have no choice but to deliberately de-liberate you.’’
    • ‘If I ever find myself up in front of the beak (presumably on a charge of teenage arson) I'd like this guy to defend me.’
    • ‘He is up before the ERC beak tomorrow and, if found guilty, is likely to be suspended for at least a month.’
    • ‘McLean resigned as a director of the club on Thursday, a move which spares him an appearance before the beaks at Hampden as he has still to be held to account for an incident involving a BBC reporter.’

Origin

Late 18th century: probably from criminals' slang.

Pronunciation

beak

/biːk/