Power Words – Beat

Some words have many meanings. Learning a few different meanings can stop confusion and increase your vocabulary. This gives you more power to express yourself and also more power to read and understand other people. Look at the word “beat” in this song:

The word “beat” has many meanings. In the song above we hear Buddy Holly sing about the beat of his heart. Listen to the song and read the lyrics.

Look at these words and phrases related to heartbeat:

his heartbeat is irregular
he has no heartbeat
my heart beats for you
My heart is beating faster and faster.
My heart misses a beat when I see you.
with every beat of my heart, I think of you
Kriemhild’d heart beats only for Siegfried

We talk about heartbeat in the context of love but also in the context of medical problems.

Link to a conversation about medical research with audio and transcript.

Michael Jackson

In the song “beat it” , the phrase means “Leave!”, “Go away!” or “Get out of here!” Listen to the song and read the lyrics.

The verb “beat” can mean “subdue” or “defeat”. Look at these phrases:


The Yankees beat the Mets.
The Yankees were beaten by the Mets.

Dimitrov beat Federer in the tennis.
Federer was beaten by Dimitrov in the tennis.

Grammar Note

Note that the the past simple tense of “beat” is “beat”. The pronunciation does not change and the spelling does not change. The present tense and past tense forms are identical.


The government forces beat the rebels.
The rebels were beaten by the government forces.

When the army marches to war, the drummer beats a drum and the soldiers march in time to the beat of the drum.

Johnny Cash

In the song Man in Black, the phrase “beaten down” means “subdued”, “defeated” or “humiliated”. Listen to the song at this link: Man in Black

Jack Kerouac and the Beat Generation

A counterculture movement called the Beat Generation was the predecessor of the hippies. Jack Kerouac talks about the Beat generation and the meaning of the word here at this link: The Beat Generation

You can read an extract of Jack Kerouac’s famous novel of the Beat Generation here: On the Road – Selected Readings in Literature


“Don’t beat around the bush!” means “Don’t delay!”, “Get to the point!”

Look at these phrases:

Stop beating around the bush and get to the point!
Stop beating about the bush and tell me what is on your mind!

“I am beat” means “I am tired”.

Phrasal Verbs – beat somebody up

“Somebody beat him up” means “somebody hit him many times”.

Word Family


He is unbeatable – nobody can defeat him.

Past Participle

He remained unbeaten for his whole career and retired as the world champion at the age of 45.


He beat me in the test this time but I beat him last time and I will beat him again next time.


His heart has stopped. There is no heartbeat. Call the ambulance.

Link to more Power Words

Power Words – cell

Link to Vocabulary Tests:

Vocabulary Test – Add

Vocabulary test – Employ

Link to Vocabulary Lessons