Beat – What does “Beat” mean in British slang?

As I have been trapped inside for a while now, I have been “face timing” many of my close friends who are far away, as I am sure you have all been doing. While speaking to my closest friend Ella I commented:

  • “woah! Your face looks absolutely beat!”

You may think this comment is strange as in formal beat BEAT the word beat has negative and strong connotations.

In formal English beat has many meanings as a verb. Firstly beat can mean to defeat someone in a game or other competitive situation. Used as so:

  • “France beat Portugal in 2000 in a great football match”

It could also mean to strike someone or something repeatedly and violently. As a noun it is the main accent or rhythmic unit in music or poetry. Finally beat can be used as an adjective meaning completely exhausted. For example:

  • “I’m beat—I need an hour or so to rest”

However when I commented on the appearance of my friends face I was not referring to any of these meanings. The slang term beat B-E-A-T isn’t as aggressive as it sounds. In slang “Beat” can be used as a verb or adjective, and surprisingly it is about beauty and makeup. The verb to beat refers to the application of one’s makeup. As an adjective beat means someone either applied their makeup well, or just applied a lot of it. For example:

  • ” You face looks beat! Where are you going out tonight?”

The term is popular among makeup enthusiasts and the gay community. You can find many examples of ‘beat’ being used in the fantastic ball culture documentary Paris Is Burning created in 1991.

So to clarify when I commented that Ella’s Face was beat I was telling her that her makeup looked beautiful and very professional.

So if your feeling bored at home, get your makeup out and beat your face!

That’s the end of our episode, remember to tune in for our next episode to see what new slang we have in store for you! You can find us on our website and from there you can see our transcript and subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and many more apps. Or head over to our facebook page for updates and more slang!