Definition of beak in English:



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

    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Using its beak, the bird reached for a bud and gave it a quick twist, which released the four petals.’
    • ‘Sandhill Cranes are big birds, with long legs and necks, long pointed beaks, and wingspans which can be over six feet.’
    • ‘Unfortunately for some, they bolt right into the beaks of waiting birds.’
    • ‘Instead of having teeth, birds have developed beaks.’
    • ‘The birds all had black beaks, a sensitive external indicator of the absence of T in the plasma of starlings.’
    • ‘By rapidly opening and closing its beak a bird can alter the damping characteristics of the vocal tract.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Climbers had to climb the sharp cliffs in strong winds and fend of birds attacking with beaks and wings.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Birds use their beaks to keep their feathers in order; you know this action as preening.’
    • ‘The plant's seeds are thought to be distributed, in part, by bird beaks, feet, and digestive systems.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Whether the flightless birds used their beaks to impale or bludgeon their prey is unknown, Chiappe says.’
    • ‘Accipitrids are diurnal birds of prey with broad wings, hooked beaks, strong legs and feet and sharp talons.’
    • ‘There are now 500 of these large, blue-black birds with yellow beaks and feet, in the centre.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘These birds have heavy beaks with a distinct hook at the end.’
    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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Contents of the gizzards were separated into otoliths and squid beaks.’
      • ‘Just above the squid's eyes is a hard ball, called the beak, which creates a slight bulge.’
      • ‘The whalers often discovered giant squid beaks inside the stomachs of these whales.’
      • ‘It has a larger beak than the giant squid and has hooks on its tentacles.’
      • ‘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 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 tropical animals had longer beaks and a different color patterning on the head; their calves had white rather than dark flanks.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘This is enough for Susanna, and she raises her hand gently to halt the turtle and avoid any possible clash between beak and mask.’
      • ‘You can eat everything on a squid but the beak, shell, and eyes.’
    2. 1.2informal A person's nose, especially a hooked one.
      ‘she can't wait to stick her beak in’
      • ‘Wolfen felt the man would stick out in a crowd like a sore thumb, with his long beak of a nose.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘A jutting beak of a nose, sharp chin and deep-set eyes gave him the appearance of a living skull.’
      • ‘She was also lucky she didn't have daddy's beak nose that Mauve had.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Yesterday, on the Edgware Road, I saw an elderly man with an impressive beak of a nose.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Cyril has stuck his beak in controversy throughout his career.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Heavy brows converge into a huge beak of a nose which hovers over thick lips smothered by a huge moustache.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘I both blind them with my beak nose and am their blind spot.’
    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 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.’
      • ‘The corvus crashed downward, its beak driving into the other ship's deck, whereupon Roman infantry dashed across.’
      • ‘The designs on Bronze Age metalwork and rock carvings show boats with a beak at the prow.’
      • ‘‘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.’


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