Definition of beat in English:

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Pronunciation: /bēt/

verb (past beat; past participle beaten /ˈbētn/)

[with object]
1Strike (a person or an animal) repeatedly and violently so as to hurt or injure them, usually with an implement such as a club or whip: a woman whose husband would frequently beat her after becoming drunk the victims were beaten to death with baseball bats
More example sentences
  • The other two reached out and pulled the Aussie from the river and then, using long clubs, beat the shark to death.
  • The documentary makers interviewed former workers who stated that some dogs were beaten to death, instead of being given a lethal injection, in order to save money.
  • Police launched a murder hunt today after a cricket club member was beaten to death next to the pitch last night.
hit, strike, batter, thump, bang, hammer, punch, knock, thrash, pound, pummel, slap, smack, rain blows on;
assault, attack, abuse;
cudgel, club, birch
informal wallop, belt, whup, bash, whack, thwack, clout, clobber, slug, tan, bop, sock, deck, plug, beat the living daylights out of
dated chastise
1.1Strike (an object) repeatedly so as to make a noise: he beat the table with his hand
More example sentences
  • He has been asked to stop beating his drum so fiercely after complaints about the noise.
  • At this time, it is forbidden to beat drums or make other loud noises.
  • The father beats a drum and the son buries his head in a covered pit.
1.2 [no object] (Of an instrument) make a rhythmical sound by being struck: drums were beating in the distance
More example sentences
  • Long after the final whistle had blown at their semi-final, the sound of drums beating and fans chanting could be heard outside the stadium.
  • Her laughter was deep, right from the stomach, and it sounded like merry drums beating away.
  • Then there was a sound of drums beating filling the air with its fury.
1.3Strike (a carpet, blanket, etc.) repeatedly in order to remove dust.
Example sentences
  • She approaches an emotion with the finesse of someone beating a carpet.
  • Training a dog, beating a carpet or rug, and washing clothes are also banned on the heath.
  • Ava beat the rug with a vengeance, watching the dust fly through the air and circle in the late summer breeze.
1.4Flatten or shape (metal) by striking it repeatedly with a hammer: pure gold can be beaten out to form very thin sheets
More example sentences
  • The most expensive is wrought iron, where the metal is beaten into shape.
  • The metal can be beaten out so thinly that it has hardly any solidity left, when it appears as gold by reflected light but green by transmitted light.
  • The piece of metal was then beaten with some kind of hammer, before being put back into the fire.
hammer, forge, form, shape, mold, work, stamp, fashion, model
1.5 (beat something against/on) Strike something against (something): she beat her fists against the wood
More example sentences
  • In total frustration, he swept a few dishes in front of him onto the floor and beat his fists on the table, knocking a few more dishes to the floor.
  • Toddlers will be beating their fists on their high chairs in fury.
  • If things aren't back to normal by Monday, it will be because I've knocked myself out beating my head against the desk.
1.6 [no object] (beat on/against) Strike repeatedly on: Sidney beat on the door with the flat of his hand
More example sentences
  • Meanwhile, Gregor's sister and father beat on his bedroom door, calling him to leave for work.
  • She looked around for something to cover herself and again Noah beat on the door.
  • I heard him beat against the door, and then fall to his feet with a strangled sigh.
1.7 [no object] (beat at) Make striking movements toward: Emmie seized the hearthrug and began to beat at the flames
More example sentences
  • She began to beat at his arms and attempt to pull away, but he pulled her closer.
  • Bill's eyes suddenly locked on Timms, his face twisted in anger, and he began beating at the glass.
  • She began beating at the gates furiously, but no one came.
1.8Move across (an area of land) repeatedly striking at the ground cover in order to raise game birds for shooting.
Example sentences
  • The estate staff and sundry villagers would be involved in beating the woods and picking up the game.
  • Local lords also demanded that peasants beat the woods during hunts and pay special additional taxes.
  • Many beaters like to carry their own stick, to help them get up and down banks, as well as for beating the undergrowth.
2Defeat (someone) in a game, competition, election, or commercial venture: she beat him easily at chess the Senators beat out the Yankees for the 1933 pennant
More example sentences
  • Lauren easily beat her father five games to one, and poked fun at his age and physical fitness.
  • There wasn't much shame in that because I thought we competed hard in the four games and we were beaten by a better side.
  • ‘There's no chance of me ever beating you at this game,’ I had said.
2.1 informal Baffle: it beats me how you manage to work in this heat
More example sentences
  • How she recovered so fast from last night beats the hell out of me.
  • Why anyone would want to drive at 150 mph with the roof down beats me.
  • It beats me how anybody could play such a boring game.
2.2Overcome (a problem, or disease): they are investing their savings in hopes of beating inflation he beat heroin addiction in 1992
More example sentences
  • He says the only hope of beating the disease is to ensure that knowledge spreads faster than virus.
  • Chloe had to have a kidney removed at North Manchester Children's Hospital in the battle to beat her illness.
  • But now his best chance of beating the disease is if a matching bone marrow donor can be found.
2.3Do or be better than (a record or score): he beat his own world record
More example sentences
  • The moment you set a goal and achieve it, somebody will eventually beat your record and surpass your goal!
  • I never imagined that you'd be able to beat the top score like that.
  • The team is confident that it will beat the current record of 245 mph, and say that it could even reach 300 mph on future runs.
2.4 informal Be better than: you can’t beat the taste of fresh raspberries
More example sentences
  • But it was hard to beat the Falconry Display as far as the kids were concerned, and parents too if they would admit it.
  • The drinks may not be free, but you can't beat the convenience.
  • There is a more casual bar, but it is hard to beat the experience of eating in the new Two Sisters dining-room, next to the snug lounge bar with its crackling log fire.
3Succeed in getting somewhere ahead of (someone): I could beat him on my bicycle the goalie beat him to the ball
More example sentences
  • He beat him to the ball and touched down under the posts.
  • The full forward beat the goalie to the ball to get the touch at full stretch but his effort along the ground was less than an inch wide of the post.
  • He gets into pass-blocking position so quickly that most defenders are unable to beat him with pure speed.
3.1Take action to avoid (difficult or inconvenient effects of an event or circumstance): they set off early to beat the traffic
More example sentences
  • Plans to beat traffic congestion when Royal Ascot comes to York will be tested in the city next month at its biggest race meeting of the year.
  • Plans for a new motorway linking the M6 and M56 have been put forward to beat congestion.
  • If you bought early to beat the Christmas rush, it may be too late to ask for a refund if you don't find the goods are faulty until Christmas Day
4 [no object] (Of the heart) pulsate: her heart beat faster with panic
More example sentences
  • Her heart was beating wildly, and panic was rising in her stomach.
  • An AED delivers a life saving electric shock that starts the heart beating and pumping again.
  • Her heart started beating hard, pounding against her ribcage.
5(Of a bird) move (the wings) up and down.
Example sentences
  • The little hummingbirds beat their wings faster and their flight is even more graceful than normal.
  • A ruby-throated hummingbird beats its wings 50 to 70 times per second.
  • I stared after the birds as they beat their wings in strange rhythm.
flap, flutter, thresh, thrash, wave, vibrate, oscillate
5.1 [no object] (Of a bird) fly making rhythmic wing movements: an owl beat low over the salt marsh
More example sentences
  • The bird soared away from us, its broad wings beating slowly.
  • Soaring above the gorge was a large black bird, its wings spread, beating against the wind.
  • His long wings beat slow, steady beats, as if accentuating the overall extenuation of the bird.
6Stir (cooking ingredients) vigorously with a fork, whisk, or beater to make a smooth or frothy mixture.
Example sentences
  • Next, beat ingredients for the cream cheese layer until smooth.
  • Egg yolks, Marsala wine, and sugar are beaten vigorously in a double boiler until thick and foamy.
  • Pour the hot melted butter over the whisked eggs in a steady stream, beating the ingredients together well.
7 (beat it) informal Leave: [in imperative]: now beat it, will you!
More example sentences
  • No, I told Mack to scram, beat it, skedaddle, hit the road Jack and don't you come back no more.
  • The thing does not move an inch, as if to say ‘put me in a utility closet or beat it.’
  • A young U.S. officer, whose unit had commandeered the house, saw them coming and barked: "Go on, go on! Beat it!"
8 [no object] Sailing Sail into the wind, following a zigzag course with repeated tacking: we beat southward all that first day
More example sentences
  • I came about and headed for home but my little boat didn't beat into the wind very well.
  • It is said, too, that sailors, beating up against the wind in the Gulf of Finland, sometimes see a strange sail heave in sight astern and overhaul them hand over hand.
  • He stuck with the vessel and slowly managed to beat to windward.


1A main accent or rhythmic unit in music or poetry: the glissando begins on the second beat
More example sentences
  • In mensural music beats fall naturally into groups of two or three with a recurring accent on the first of each group.
  • Conductors became the drill sergeants of music; the beat is seen rather than heard.
  • This time, focus all your attention on making a stress on the second and last beats of each bar.
1.1A strong rhythm in popular music: the music changed to a funky disco beat
More example sentences
  • It gives you what you'd expect - strong beats, ironic raps and bizarre alter egos.
  • The show is a pure play on energy, filled with funky beats and strong singing and dancing.
  • There is a structure under there somewhere, with each song held together by a strong beat.
rhythm, pulse, meter, time, measure, cadence;
stress, accent
1.2 [in singular] A regular, rhythmic sound or movement: the beat of the wipers became almost hypnotic
More example sentences
  • A pulsar, of course, beeps with a regular beat, but it also has a sort of echo.
  • To live according to the regular beat of man-made time, we have to carry time around with us.
  • She settles down the steady beat of kitchen sounds that announce the preparation of dinner for yet another autumn night.
1.3The sound made when something, typically a musical instrument, is struck: he heard a regular drumbeat
More example sentences
  • Women who were washing laundry outside their houses, and talking to their neighbour about the latest village gossip, looked up in surprise at the sound of hoof beats.
  • After another few minutes' silence, they heard distinct sounds of hoof beats.
  • I woke to the jolting sound of hoof beats, thundering down a dirt path.
pounding, banging, thumping, thudding, booming, hammering, battering, crashing
1.4A pulsation of the heart.
Example sentences
  • In essence, your heart requires fewer beats to pump the same amount of blood.
  • Taking long breaths to hide the agitated beats of my thudding heart, I leaned forward more intently to analyze the picture.
  • In her ears echoed the sounds of her beating heart as its beats began to grow weak and slow.
pulse, pulsating, vibration, throb, palpitation, reverberation;
pounding, thump, thud, hammering, drumming;
1.5A periodic variation of sound or amplitude due to the combination of two sounds, electrical signals, or other vibrations having similar but not identical frequencies.
Example sentences
  • As two tones become more similar, the ‘beat frequency’ becomes lower.
  • When the second pump had been stopped, the beat effect ceased and the vibration consequently assumed a stable trend.
1.6The movement of a bird’s wings.
Example sentences
  • You can feel the beats of their large wings as they fly just inches above you.
  • Ten minutes after break of day John will listen for the beat of wings and sure as light they will wheel in and come to rest to be fed, in the field across the road.
  • The details are lost amid the uneven songs of the pigeons, the beat of wings and scrape of claw on slate.
2An area allocated to a police officer to patrol: a patrolman who strived to make his beat a safe one public clamor for more police officers on the beat
More example sentences
  • 28 per cent said that they had never seen a police officer on the beat in their area.
  • Police are putting extra patrols on the beat in Grimsby after a racist attack left an asylum seeker with serious facial injuries.
  • I would put more police on the beat instead of driving round in cars or sat behind a desk.
circuit, round, route, way, path
2.1A spell of duty allocated to a police officer: her beat ended at 6 a.m.
2.2An area regularly frequented by someone, typically a prostitute.
Example sentences
  • Wardens each have beats which are rotated regularly and can expect to cover an average of up to six miles a day.
  • Reporters are required to check their beat everyday -- in person.
  • Workers in this contexts have similar ways of looking out for each other, including on worker telling another when she is leaving her ‘beat’ to service a punter, so that the woman who remains behind can raise the alarm if necessary.
2.3A person’s area of interest: his beat is construction, property, and hotels
More example sentences
  • Others have found international reporting to be a beat that interests them far more than any domestic story.
  • Because I work the entertainment beat, frequent contact was inevitable.
  • Because she's a real reporter who happens to be stuck on the movie beat for the moment.
3A brief pause or moment of hesitation, typically one lasting a specified length: she waited for a beat of three seconds
As a stage direction
More example sentences
  • The gentleman moves past, pausing for a beat to smile at the child.
  • Bailey pauses for a beat while the squadron groan.
  • Chris hesitates for a beat before rushing up and knocking Johnnie down in a quick flurry of shots.
4 informal short for beatnik.
Example sentences
  • Perhaps he was a Beat born too early.
  • He was a beat in the 50s, met and performed with Warhol in the early 60s, was always on the edge of everything.
  • It reminds me of my parents, they were beats and hippies then converted to Protestant Christianity.


1 [predicative] informal Completely exhausted: I’m dead beat
More example sentences
  • He ducked out in the stretch and he looked beat before straightening out and accelerating.
  • It's a long drive, and by the time we check in to our hotel, I am beat.
  • I was invited down there by Jimmy, who seemed completely beat.
2 [attributive] Relating to the beat generation or its philosophy: beat poet Allen Ginsberg
More example sentences
  • At the minute I'm mostly reading beat poets.
  • Made in 2003, he calls it a homage to his hero, the beat poet Allen Ginsberg.
  • North Beach was home to the beat poets, who some say launched the youth revolution.



beat all

Be amazing or impressive: well, that beats all
More example sentences
  • Hang on, this one beats all…
  • I have seen some heavy weather in Shanghai, but this beats all.
  • A Hollywood ending still beats all.

beat around (or beat about) the bush

Discuss a matter without coming to the point.
Example sentences
  • So, without any further beating about the bush, I present this week's question.
  • But then everybody must stop beating about the bush and tell it like it is.
  • ‘I don't think we ought to beat about the bush,’ he joked.

beat someone at their own game

see game1.

beat someone's brains out

see brain.

beat one's breast

see breast.

beat the bushes

North American informal Search thoroughly: I was out beating the bushes for investors to split the risk
More example sentences
  • The choice is whether to focus on one dream candidate or to beat the bushes and conduct a thorough search.
  • As the tightest presidential election in Mexican history hits the homestretch for July 2, the front-runners are beating the bushes for every vote they can get.
  • Rather than desperately beating the bushes for MBAs, by the 1990s, US firms were swamped with them.

beat the clock

Perform a task quickly or within a fixed time limit.
Example sentences
  • A trainee army officer braved sub-zero temperatures to beat the clock in stamina-sapping ski and shoot races.
  • We get one of those scenes in which a safecracker tries to beat the clock.
  • Surgeons are being paid three times their normal daily wages by desperate health chiefs racing to beat the clock over waiting times targets.

beat a dead horse

Waste energy on a lost cause or unalterable situation.
Example sentences
  • I'm hesitant to go back to this, but I'm compelled to clarify myself, so ignore this if you feel like I'm beating a dead horse.
  • In an article in today's paper he spends his time beating a dead horse.
  • Rather than beating a dead horse still further I will just offer a brief comment on each of these.

beat the drum for

see drum1.

beat the hell out of

1Beat (someone) very severely.
Example sentences
  • I am not leaving her here for you to beat the hell out of.
  • His body has been implanted with various mechanical parts, giving him the necessary tools to regain his memory and beat the hell out of practically anything that gets in his way.
  • Like it or not, people like that really are out there, in apparent profusion, stealing each other's mates, cursing up a storm, drinking, and beating the hell out of each other, literally and figuratively.
2Surpass or defeat easily.
Example sentences
  • Eight tracks and forty minutes of concise wonder beats the hell out of fourteen tracks that last for, as far as I can remember, roughly four hours of good ideas surrounded by dross and boredom.
  • I learned the best way that Easter cream eggs left in your car on Valentine's Day beats the hell out of overtly romantic heart shaped anything.
  • But, like any exercise program, it beats the hell out of not doing anything at all.
2.1Totally confuse or puzzle (someone).

beat the living daylights out of


beat one's meat

vulgar slang (Of a man) masturbate.

beat the pants off

informal Prove to be vastly superior to.
Example sentences
  • But of course the best scenario is we beat the pants off our competition and go on as if nothing happened.
  • It's not an easy thing, coming out with something that beats the pants off your tablemates.
  • It is rare when a company introduces a new line of apparel that literally beats the pants off its competitors.

beat a path to someone's door

(Of a large number of people) hasten to make contact with someone regarded as interesting or inspiring, or in association with whom one stands to profit.
Example sentences
  • If they can make this work, they will have tyre-manufacturers beating a path to their door.
  • It is easy to understand why conservationists and wildlife lovers have been beating a path to the company 's door.
  • He said: ‘The nation's retailers are beating a path to our door.’

beat a (hasty) retreat

Withdraw, typically in order to avoid something unpleasant: as the bombs started to go off, they beat a hasty retreat across the field
More example sentences
  • Jonathan then lunged for the boy at the door, who quickly turned around and beat a hasty retreat away from the house, forgetting his flowers and his car.
  • But speaking outside a regional police chiefs conference in Bali today, there was no sign that he's beating a retreat from his position.
  • On our arrival, anxious parents start gathering up their little ones and beating a retreat.

beat the shit out of

vulgar slang Beat (someone) very severely.

beat the system

Succeed in finding a means of getting around rules, regulations, or other means of control.
Example sentences
  • We had tried to beat the system, but the system had beaten us.
  • No matter what you do, they're going to look for ways to beat the system, and sometimes they'll succeed.
  • Follow these seven rules and you too can beat the system and earn money from your plastic.

beat time

Indicate or follow a musical tempo with a baton or other means.
Example sentences
  • The robot replaced the bandleader during one song, beating time with a baton in its pistoning arm.
  • Not many conductors have ever had to beat time to a chamber ensemble on his left while, on the right, deejay, rapper and band are zipping off an unscripted rhythm.
  • Their teacher would beat time with her pencil on the music rack.

beat someone to it

Succeed in doing something or getting somewhere before someone else, to their annoyance.
Example sentences
  • She knew how I felt about succeeding in my challenge, and she wanted to beat me to it.
  • He and five of his colleagues reached the Pole only to discover that they had been beaten to it by Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen.
  • You better put in for that time off from the job now, before somebody else beats you to it.

miss a beat

see miss1.

to beat all ——s

That is infinitely better than all the things mentioned: a PC screen saver to beat all screen savers
More example sentences
  • In spite of a storm to beat all storms, there was a record turn out of punters to the Table Quiz.
  • Word is beginning to filter through that there s a festival to beat all festivals planned for the culture-rich village of Milltown over the August bank holiday weekend.
  • The company will present one lucky reader with the prize to beat all prizes, an all expenses paid rugby party at their house with 20 of their close friends.

to beat the band

North American informal In such a way as to surpass all competition: they were talking to beat the band
More example sentences
  • Well, the charm seems to be continuing, as I have been pumping out lyrics to beat the band.
  • There they were confronted and astonished to find themselves in a specially arranged Marquee glittering with banners, ballons and welcome streamers wishing Mary a Happy 40th and a barbeque to beat the band.
  • We sang away to beat the band and after the miracle of modern technology took hold we didn't sound too bad at all.

Phrasal verbs


beat someone back (usually be beaten back)

Force (someone attempting to do something) to retreat: I tried to get in but was beaten back by the flames
More example sentences
  • There were women fighting to get in, but the flames beat them back.
  • We tried for a summit attempt on May 29 but we were beaten back by the weather.
  • They had tried to get into the house through the back door, on their knees, but they were beaten back by the heat and smoke.

beat down

(Of the sun) radiate intense heat and brightness.
Example sentences
  • With the heat beating down on them, people queued up in front of fresh fruit juice stalls to quench their thirst.
  • The sun was beating down heating the cold morning air.
  • I was standing on the pavement, the heat beating down on the back of my neck.
2.1(Of rain) fall hard and continuously.
Example sentences
  • The rain was beating down hard and both Daryl and Melissa were soaked to the bone.
  • The merciless rain beat down so hard, even the thick canopy of the dark woods gave way to the crashing heavy droplets.
  • I leaned wearily into MaryAnn's shoulder and sat for a moment, drying my tears and listening to the rain beat down on the roof and windows of the chapel.

beat something down

Quell defense or resistance.
Example sentences
  • Above all, realize that if you really care about literature, if you really love literature, then you might help it more by encouraging it than by beating it down.
  • While other people might be beaten down, he seems to rise to the occasion.
  • Once the enemy artillery had been beaten down, artillery could then be used to support the final stages of the infantry attack.

beat someone down

Force someone to reduce the price of something.
Example sentences
  • He beat me down on the price. He got a bargain from a naive schoolboy and I still resent him now for that.
  • Legitimate net design guys like me struggle to get clients, who then beat us down on price.
  • Friends say if you ask to borrow a fiver, he'd beat you down to £4.

beat off

vulgar slang (Of a man) masturbate.

beat someone/something off

Succeed in resisting an attacker or an attack.
Example sentences
  • In January 1583, he marched to Antwerp to assert his authority but his attack was beaten off.
  • They stood firm and beat him off, inflicting another 12,000 casualties on Frederick's army.
  • But much of his time was devoted to beating off attacks on his authority.
6.1Win against a challenge or rival.
Example sentences
  • It was no surprise that CAR magazine voted it their No.1 car of 2003, beating off competition from the BMW M3 CSL and Ferrari 360 CS.
  • In the men's event, Roger Hammond beat off Jeremy Hunt and Jamie Alberts to lift the crown.
  • Rogers beat off four rivals to land the job.

beat something out

1Produce a loud, rhythmic sound by striking something: he beat out a rhythm on the drums
More example sentences
  • I took the drumsticks back and started beating a rhythm out.
  • The sound she beat out was at once primal and primitive, yet nuanced, complex, flowing.
  • He is lightly beating out a rhythm which gradually increases in intensity.
2Extinguish flames by striking at them with a suitable object.
Example sentences
  • It carried on relentlessly burning, melting the sole of his shoes as he finally beat the flames out.
  • It screamed as flames surrounded it; screaming, it tried to beat them out.
  • Other men knocked them to the ground and began to beat the flames out savagely.

beat someone up

1Assault and severely injure someone by hitting, kicking, or punching them repeatedly.
Example sentences
  • The youngsters have kicked his door, threatened to beat him up and thrown eggs at his door in Manor Road, Dovercourt.
  • It's a social problem, where it's becoming acceptable to attack people and beat them up in this way.
  • I used to dread getting the results of tests because my name would always be called out first, as the highest score and then classmates would threaten to beat me up during the break.
2Abuse someone verbally.
Example sentences
  • May be we should just accept the fact that with this season ‘to be merry’, comes a certain dose of celebratory excess, and not beat ourselves up for it.
  • Stop beating yourself up about your weight; you are fine as you are!
  • Let's stop beating ourselves up about this and make use of it.
assault, attack, mug, thrash, do over, work over, rough up, lay into, lace into, sail into, beat the living daylights out of, let someone have it, beat up on, knock around/about

beat up on

another way of saying beat someone up.
Example sentences
  • I frankly believe that you spend all this time beating up on somebody else because you don't have that much to say yourself.
  • But I wish people would stop beating up on him for running.
  • As a result, they're working with him, rather than beating up on him.



Example sentences
  • ‘They are beatable,’ he stated, ‘just like any other team.’
  • The record is certainly beatable, and I'm quite convinced that a decent athlete could easily go under nine hours.
  • He is going to be hard to beat, but he is definitely beatable.


Old English bēatan, of Germanic origin.

  • An Old English word related to beetle in the sense ‘heavy mallet’. The beat generation was a group of unconventional artists and writers of the 1950s and early 1960s, who valued free self-expression and liked modern jazz. Here the beat probably originally meant ‘worn out, exhausted’ rather than referring to a musical rhythm. The first people to beat about the bush were the ‘beaters’ who tried to disturb game birds so that they would fly up to be shot at. Beaters beat bushes, but soldiers beat drums. This is the origin of the phrase to beat a hasty retreat. To ‘beat a retreat’ was to sound the drums in a way that signalled to soldiers that they should withdraw from the battle. The drumming also helped them to retreat in an orderly manner.

Words that rhyme with beat

accrete, autocomplete, beet, bittersweet, bleat, cheat, cleat, clubfeet, compete, compleat, complete, conceit, Crete, deceit, delete, deplete, discreet, discrete, eat, effete, élite, entreat, escheat, estreat, excrete, feat, feet, fleet, gîte, greet, heat, leat, leet, Magritte, maltreat, marguerite, meat, meet, meet-and-greet, mesquite, mete, mistreat, neat, outcompete, peat, Pete, petite, pleat, receipt, replete, sangeet, seat, secrete, sheet, skeet, sleet, splay-feet, street, suite, sweet, teat, treat, tweet, wheat

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: beat

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