Definition of beg in English:



  • 1[reporting verb] Ask someone earnestly or humbly for something.

    [with object] ‘he begged his fellow passengers for help’
    [with object and infinitive] ‘she begged me to say nothing to her father’
    [no object] ‘I must beg of you not to act impulsively’
    • ‘I beg of you, mother, to walk me down the aisle for no other person would be suited to do so in my eyes.’
    • ‘If I have done anything to screw it up, I beg of you to push it aside and forgive me.’
    • ‘I beg of you please revive the life of this young boy, Hardy.’
    • ‘She bows down at his feet (no Pharisee in Galilee did that!) and presents herself humbly as she begs for his help.’
    • ‘God please, please, please, I beg of you, make my feelings for Jalil disappear.’
    • ‘I could hear her begging my father for my forgiveness, but I could also tell that she was failing as my father's voice dissipated completely.’
    • ‘‘Please I beg of you, think of what your doing’ Eve said, pleading for her life.’
    • ‘I'm begging anyone with any information to contact the police.’
    • ‘That night Paul and John begged their father to play.’
    • ‘Save me from any more embarrassment, please I beg of you - whoever is in charge of embarrassing people!’
    • ‘Michelle smiled at her other two friends, begging them to forgive him as she had.’
    • ‘Meanwhile, farmers are begging their banks for the funds to survive.’
    • ‘I pleaded for him and begged them to take me instead, but they forced me away.’
    • ‘I beg of you, do not distress yourself over this.’
    • ‘So I beg of you, please, do not carry on this tradition.’
    • ‘So, I beg of you, when you see a cyclist on the road, give plenty of space.’
    • ‘When he had left the house, he had pleaded and begged his grandmother to come with him, but she had refused.’
    • ‘If I speak to you less often and seem less cordial than before, do not be offended, I beg of you.’
    • ‘Children cried and clung to their fathers, begging them not to go.’
    beseech, entreat, implore, adjure, plead with, appeal to, pray to
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    1. 1.1[with object]Ask for (something) earnestly or humbly.
      ‘he begged their forgiveness’
      • ‘In every other aspect of daily life there's usually something that stands out and begs the attention of the eye or the ear - typestyles fall out of favor, and hence define an era.’
      • ‘The two delegates approached the supreme leader on several occasions trying to beg mercy for their fellow reformers.’
      • ‘She was right to go to the women, express her sincere regret and ask their forgiveness, but she was wrong to continue begging it once it was clear they would not give it.’
      • ‘Then, embarrassed by his own behavior, Orlando begged their forgiveness and hurried to retrieve Adam.’
      • ‘There are many others, in scouting, involved and I beg their forgiveness for not mentioning them by name.’
      • ‘Then the exhausted Shackleton begs ships from numerous navies until he finally returns for his crew in an almost unparalleled saga of the bravery we all want to be able to show and only a handful ever manage.’
      • ‘I most humbly beg leave to trouble your grace with these few lines.’
      • ‘Do I find a Master and beg of him to solve this riddle?’
      • ‘His eyes begged a silent plea of forgiveness, but she only shook her head.’
      • ‘Luckily he is very polite and begs forgiveness.’
      • ‘Just as I was about to beg their forgiveness, I saw the energy between them changing.’
      • ‘‘Humbly do I beg your forgiveness, Lord,’ she said clearly, bowing her head.’
      ask for, request, plead for, appeal for, call for, sue for, solicit, seek, look for, press for
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    2. 1.2[with object]Ask formally for (permission to do something)
      ‘I will now beg leave to make some observations’
      [no object, with infinitive] ‘I beg to second the motion’
  • 2[no object] Ask for food or money as charity.

    ‘a young woman was begging in the street’
    ‘they had to beg for food’
    • ‘So the crippled beg for food but are shown little compassion.’
    • ‘A friend told me that it was better living on the street, because there you could beg for money and food.’
    • ‘What is even worse is when people actively beg for money, in that they come up to you in the street and ask you for money.’
    • ‘Their decision to beg seems to be paying handsome dividends.’
    • ‘They were poor having no stock save a cow and a few hens, and often had to beg for food around the parish.’
    • ‘A man begging cornered me and asked me for some spare change.’
    • ‘Her husband, William Good, was a simple laborer and his inadequate income forced the Goods to accept charity and to beg for goods from their neighbors.’
    • ‘Maybe she could find the train station and beg for some money to catch a train out or town.’
    • ‘He had to beg for money in order to eat, but received very little.’
    • ‘At times we are forced to go and beg for food from nearby homesteads.’
    • ‘You might see two parents working hard for a living, and yet their children would beg for food in the streets.’
    • ‘They have gone to streets in town where they beg for money to survive.’
    • ‘She was so low on money these days that she felt the need to beg for money.’
    • ‘Every day poor people came to her house to beg for food and every day she sent them away with nothing.’
    • ‘He recounts the incident of a man who came to beg for food for his starving child.’
    • ‘Egypt must not remain poor and must not beg for food from the international community.’
    • ‘I'm going to go beg for money and we might end up with enough to rent a room to stay for tonight.’
    • ‘He assumed that she was a wandering beggar who had come to beg for food and shelter.’
    • ‘They beg for money, often using bits of broken English they pick up from the occasional soldier they encounter.’
    • ‘The poor were also allowed to beg for money in these buildings.’
    ask for money, solicit money, seek charity, seek alms
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    1. 2.1[with object]Acquire (food or money) from someone by begging.
      ‘a piece of bread which I begged from a farmer’
      • ‘They slept in the open and begged food from farmers.’
      • ‘The journey took three days; he begged food and money along the way.’
      • ‘She begged money from parishioners going to and from St Anne's Cathedral.’
      take as a loan, ask for the loan of, receive as a loan, use temporarily, have temporarily
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    2. 2.2(of a dog) sit up with the front paws raised expectantly in the hope of a reward.
      • ‘His eyes were glinting with pleading; he looked like a dog begging for food.’
      • ‘Mom's eyes were like a puppy's begging for a scrap from the dinner table.’
      • ‘It took him five minutes to walk to the backyard shed, inside would be the cute little puppy Shadow, whom would lick and beg for food from Chad.’
      • ‘The smartly dressed man shooed the boy away, as if it was an annoying dog begging for a piece of meat.’
      • ‘My tongue stops midway to going back into my mouth, with the ice cream still on the tip, I must look like a dog begging for a bone or something.’
      • ‘A laugh escaped, she looked like a small puppy begging for attention again.’
      • ‘Her party trick is to stand on her back legs and beg for food very much like a dog begs.’
      • ‘He would sit up and beg for food every few moments, at which point Kayty would take something off of her plate and hold it out for him.’


The original meaning of the phrase beg the question belongs to the field of logic and is a translation of Latin petitio principii, literally meaning ‘laying claim to a principle’, i.e. assuming something that ought to be proved first, as in the following sentence: by devoting such a large part of the budget for the fight against drug addiction to education, we are begging the question of its significance in the battle against drugs. To some traditionalists this is still the only correct meaning. However, over the last 100 years or so another, more general use has arisen: ‘invite an obvious question’, as in some definitions of mental illness beg the question of what constitutes normal behaviour. This is by far the commonest use today and is the usual one in modern standard English


  • beg one's bread

    • archaic Live by begging.

      • ‘By this unlucky accident, he that had seen so much of the world for such a length of time was reduced to the most indigent state, and at length forced to beg his bread.’
      • ‘She had even to beg her bread on the streets; for who wanted to help the woman who wasted wheat?’
      • ‘Better were it for us to beg our bread and clothe ourselves in rags, than to part with Christian simplicity and frankness.’
      • ‘Face flushing a deep red with anger, Lisette was of a mind to box Bess’ ears soundly then send her away to beg her bread as a vagrant along the roads.’
      • ‘He was a boy of nine years old when he buried first his father and then his mother, and he had no other resource than to beg his bread from door to door.’
  • beg the question

    • 1(of a fact or action) raise a point that has not been dealt with; invite an obvious question.

      ‘some definitions of mental illness beg the question of what constitutes normal behaviour’
      • ‘It has proved difficult to argue for one choice over another without simply begging the question against competing positions.’
      • ‘In fact, it begs the question whether preserving today's national boundaries is a worthwhile goal.’
      • ‘It begs the burning question - are they engagement rings?’
      • ‘Which begs the question: do you think they were raised by bears?’
      • ‘In fact, it only begs the question of whether they have evolved at all.’
      • ‘She obviously didn't have a clue - which begged the question about why she was even here and how she'd even got the job.’
      • ‘Which begs a question: Who, then, is tougher than an opponent?’
      • ‘But this obviously begs the question: who gets control of the remote?’
      • ‘But we don't really believe that, and the topic begs other questions, like: How many younger women are rocking the establishment?’
      • ‘While the new questions do not seem provocative, they do beg the question: What is the point of it all?’
      • ‘They are out there being a problem well past midnight which begs the questions, do their parents know where they are and what they are doing?’
      • ‘Saying that the consideration is what moves the transfer begs the question, really, because the question here is, what does move it?’
      • ‘It does beg the question about whether its findings proved embarrassing.’
      • ‘It also begs the questions as to who benefits from these matches, because Clare can have learned little about themselves from what was little more than a training exercise.’
      • ‘It seems that every political question ultimately begs the question, ‘how do we proceed?’’
      • ‘But that begs the question of why that deal happened now as opposed to two years ago and what we had to give up to get it.’
      • ‘These facts beg the question: Are these AIDS awareness initiatives ineffective?’
      • ‘But the idea of biking around in cold weather, or bombing down a snowy mountainside, begs some obvious questions: isn't it kind of dangerous?’
      • ‘Which begs the big question: What is the right thing?’
      • ‘No real surprises here but it begs the question of why such obvious flaws were never caught in advance.’
    • 2Assume the truth of an argument or proposition to be proved, without arguing it.

      • ‘It might be argued that it begs the question to assume that exploitation can be mutually advantageous and consensual.’
      • ‘These arguments are indeed plausible, but beg the question.’
      • ‘And an argument that begs the question clearly does not work.’
      • ‘There are two people internal to her investigative staff that have recommended an independent counsel on the basis of what we know today, and to say she wouldn't do it, begs the question.’
      • ‘It seems to me that this begs the question as well as implicitly assuming a kind of universal agreement about human rights that I don't think is historically supported.’
      • ‘It may be objected that this argument begs the question.’
      • ‘This argument assumes the conclusion, and so begs the question.’
      • ‘It therefore begs the question and doesn't prove a thing about real-life biological evolution.’
      • ‘Hasn't Hume just begged the question against them - not so much proved that they are wrong as simply assumed it?’
      • ‘The problem with many of the criteria is that they either assume what they seek to prove or simply beg the question.’
      • ‘The argument has been criticized for begging the question: it assumes the universe is designed in order to prove that it is the work of a designer.’
      • ‘But this begs the question, for it assumes that the state and religion arose from two independent sources.’
  • beg to differ

    • Politely disagree.

      • ‘You can't imagine there being a time when film wasn't part of her plans - although she begs to differ.’
      • ‘And if anyone assumes there is anything slapped together about it, he begs to differ.’
      • ‘Much of the rest of civilization begs to differ.’
      • ‘A prominent Beverly Hills estate agent begged to differ; if the property could be subdivided, he felt it could attract offers of around $20m.’
      • ‘‘I don't think we're very good students anymore,’ she says; however, Carmen begged to differ.’
      • ‘I beg to differ in my reaction to it and in my opinion on the matters she raises in her letter.’
      • ‘A great many economic historians have begged to differ.’
      • ‘‘This is obviously an extremely dangerous game,’ he opined, and none begged to differ.’
      • ‘The industry begs to differ, arguing that what we are witnessing is a cultural change and that the health and fitness club will remain an important part of the commercial property market.’
      • ‘Danny, who has worked here for three years, begs to differ.’
  • beg yours

    • I beg your pardon.

      • ‘I was stunned. “I beg yours? Did you say …?”’
  • go begging

    • 1(of an article) be available because unwanted by others.

      ‘there was a spare aircraft going begging’
      • ‘‘We are a country of the last minute,’ said Cesare Vaciago, director general of the Turin organising committee, in response to reports in the last fortnight that 370,000 of the one million available tickets were still going begging.’
      surplus, surplus to requirements, superfluous, too many, too much, supernumerary, excessive, in excess, going begging
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      1. 1.1(of an opportunity) fail to be taken.
        ‘the home side had themselves to blame as chances went begging’
        • ‘Although they scored four tries, at least five other golden scoring opportunities went begging.’
        • ‘This was a wake up call for the brothers and they started to convert the opportunities that had earlier gone begging.’
        • ‘He wasn't so foolish to talk about all the opportunities that went begging.’
        • ‘They missed the chance to go ahead after seven minutes when a penalty opportunity went begging.’
        • ‘Chance after chance went begging in the second half.’
        unutilized, not made use of, unemployed, unexploited, not in service, non-functioning
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Phrasal Verbs

  • beg off

    • Withdraw from an undertaking.

      ‘I'd planned to take Christy to dinner, but I was in a mood, and I begged off’
      • ‘I finally begged off on some excuse and put down the controller.’
      • ‘But if you're going to use the ‘it's not my specialty’ excuse to beg off answering one question, why doesn't that stop you from making claims in all those other non-specialties?’
      • ‘She has even had to beg off a meeting in Asia to make the round trip.’
      • ‘With no evidence of any of these matters, I had to beg off.’
      • ‘His first term as mayor began in 1352, he was re-elected the following year, and then for an unprecedented third consecutive term - on that occasion he begged off, but again served in 1359/60 and 1366 / 67.’
      • ‘That being the case I'm betting I can legitimately beg off spending Christmas with anyone and stick to my original plan of cleaning the kitchen, watching some dvd's and going online - after a very long lie in.’


Middle English: probably from Old English bedecian, of Germanic origin; related to bid.