Definition of beggar in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /ˈbeɡər/


1A person, typically a homeless one, who lives by asking for money or food.
Example sentences
  • How many times have you been asked in the street for some money from a seemingly homeless person or a beggar?
  • ‘One of your beggars asked me for money for a cup of coffee,’ he said.
  • I do voluntary work, am a Christian, invariably give money to beggars and try to spread a little happiness as I go by.
2 [with adjective] informal A person of a specified type, often one to be envied or pitied: poor little beggars
More example sentences
  • The cool million generally goes to some lucky beggar down south.
  • The poor beggar's badly burned body was supposed to be in the coffin awaiting collection.
  • Indeed, the poor beggars attending the meeting in April would have witnessed Lee's wholehearted endorsement of his chief executive's vision.


[with object]
Reduce (someone) to poverty: by being soft to the unfortunate, we beggared ourselves
More example sentences
  • Now if it could be shown that beggaring rich people inevitably enriches poor people there might be something to say for a crusade against inequality.
  • Those of the left claimed that naive women were seduced into becoming avaricious consumers, beggaring their families.
  • That would stop the competition gaining market share by beggaring your own people.



beggar belief (or description)

Be too extraordinary to be believed or described.
Example sentences
  • It beggars belief that a group of local councillors can really believe there is any merit in this option.
  • ‘Cave-in’ doesn't even begin to describe mismanagement so far off the scale as to beggar belief.
  • Although the inadequate measures to deal with the problem beggar belief, what is even more incredible is the mentality of a farmer or a householder who will dispose of their rubbish by dumping it into the nearest river.

beggars can't be choosers

proverb People with no other options must be content with what is offered.
Example sentences
  • But my funds are getting down to the wire and so beggars can't be choosers…
  • I've had more glowing reviews, but beggars can't be choosers.
  • Sadly not a two-seater but beggars can't be choosers.

set a beggar on horseback and he'll ride to the Devil

proverb Someone unaccustomed to power or luxury will abuse or be corrupted by it.
Example sentences
  • Or, as he says:— "When by the advice of that eminent physician, Dr. Lettsom, I purchased a horse, and saved my life by the exercise it afforded me, the old adage, 'Set a beggar on horseback and he'll ride to the devil,' was deemed fully verified."


Middle English: from beg + -ar3.

Words that rhyme with beggar

eggar, Gregor, mega, Megger

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: beg·gar

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.