Definition of beg in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /bɛɡ/

verb (begs, begging, begged)

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
More example sentences
  • 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.
  • I beg of you, do not distress yourself over this.
beseech, entreat, implore, adjure, plead with, appeal to, pray to;
ask, request, call on, petition, apply to;
importune, exhort, enjoin, press
rare obsecrate
1.1 [with object] Ask for (something) earnestly or humbly: he begged their forgiveness
More example sentences
  • ‘Humbly do I beg your forgiveness, Lord,’ she said clearly, bowing her head.
  • I most humbly beg leave to trouble your grace with these few lines.
  • There are many others, in scouting, involved and I beg their forgiveness for not mentioning them by name.
ask for, request, plead for, appeal for, call for, sue for, solicit, seek, look for, press for
rare impetrate
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
More example sentences
  • 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.
  • A friend told me that it was better living on the street, because there you could beg for money and food.
  • Egypt must not remain poor and must not beg for food from the international community.
ask for money, solicit money, seek charity, seek alms
informal sponge, cadge, scrounge, bum, touch someone for money
British informal scab
Scottish informal sorn on someone
North American informal mooch
Australian/New Zealand informal bludge
2.1 [with object] Acquire (food or money) from someone by begging: a piece of bread which I begged from a farmer
More example sentences
  • They slept in the open and begged food from farmers.
  • She begged money from parishioners going to and from St Anne's Cathedral.
  • The journey took three days; he begged food and money along the way.
2.2(Of a dog) sit up with the front paws raised expectantly in the hope of a reward.
Example sentences
  • 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.
  • The smartly dressed man shooed the boy away, as if it was an annoying dog begging for a piece of meat.
  • Mom's eyes were like a puppy's begging for a scrap from the dinner table.


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.
Example sentences
  • 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.

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
More example sentences
  • In fact, it begs the question whether preserving today's national boundaries is a worthwhile goal.
  • 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.
  • In fact, it only begs the question of whether they have evolved at all.
2Assume the truth of an argument or proposition to be proved, without arguing it.
Example sentences
  • It might be argued that it begs the question to assume that exploitation can be mutually advantageous and consensual.
  • 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.
  • The problem with many of the criteria is that they either assume what they seek to prove or simply beg the question.

beg to differ

see differ.

beg yours

Australian /NZ I beg your pardon.
Example sentences
  • I was stunned. “I beg yours? Did you say …?”

go begging

(Of an article) be available because unwanted by others: there was a spare aircraft going begging
More example sentences
  • ‘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.
5.1(Of an opportunity) fail to be taken: the home side had themselves to blame as chances went begging
More example sentences
  • Although they scored four tries, at least five other golden scoring opportunities went 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.

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
More example sentences
  • 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?
  • 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.
  • With no evidence of any of these matters, I had to beg off.


Middle English: probably from Old English bedecian, of Germanic origin; related to bid2.

Words that rhyme with beg

cleg, egg, Eigg, Greg, keg, leg, Meg, peg, skeg, teg, yegg

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: beg

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.