Discussion:
Have a beef
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Lewis
2019-10-19 11:08:10 UTC
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Is the origin of the meaning of beef as in the phrase "I don't have a
beef with you" known? Any reasonable guesses?

Before anyone gets any wild ideas, I know it's over 100 years old and
probably was common in speech in the 19th century long before it was
written down.

Cows are generally pretty easy going, though bulls are not, but since
beef is used only for meat, I doubt very much cows or bulls are the
origin of the phrase, though I suppose if it came from the cattle
drivers on the mid to late 19th century in the US West?

Also, when did it migrate to BrE?

Any somewhat suspicious homophones in other languages it might be a
corruption of?
--
Lead me not into temptation, I can find the way.
Peter Duncanson [BrE]
2019-10-19 11:33:37 UTC
Reply
Permalink
On Sat, 19 Oct 2019 11:08:10 -0000 (UTC), Lewis
Post by Lewis
Is the origin of the meaning of beef as in the phrase "I don't have a
beef with you" known? Any reasonable guesses?
Before anyone gets any wild ideas, I know it's over 100 years old and
probably was common in speech in the 19th century long before it was
written down.
Cows are generally pretty easy going, though bulls are not, but since
beef is used only for meat, I doubt very much cows or bulls are the
origin of the phrase, though I suppose if it came from the cattle
drivers on the mid to late 19th century in the US West?
Also, when did it migrate to BrE?
Any somewhat suspicious homophones in other languages it might be a
corruption of?
The OED gives this sense of "beef", noun:

4. A protest, (ground for) complaint, grievance. slang (originally
U.S.). Cf. beef v. 4.

1900 G. Ade Fables in Slang 80 He made a Horrible Beef because
he couldn't get Loaf Sugar for his Coffee.
<snip later quotations>

beef v.

4. intransitive. To complain, grumble, protest. slang (originally
U.S.).

1888 N.Y. World 13 May (Farmer) He'll beef an' kick like a steer
an' let on he won't never wear 'em.
<snip other US quotations>
1930 P. G. Wodehouse Very Good, Jeeves iii. 74 You have beefed
about Miss Wickham.
<snip>

I assume that when Wodehouse used "beef" it would already have been in
use and therefore understood by readers.
--
Peter Duncanson, UK
(in alt.usage.english)
Peter T. Daniels
2019-10-19 15:22:15 UTC
Reply
Permalink
Post by Peter Duncanson [BrE]
On Sat, 19 Oct 2019 11:08:10 -0000 (UTC), Lewis
Post by Lewis
Is the origin of the meaning of beef as in the phrase "I don't have a
beef with you" known? Any reasonable guesses?
Before anyone gets any wild ideas, I know it's over 100 years old and
probably was common in speech in the 19th century long before it was
written down.
Cows are generally pretty easy going, though bulls are not, but since
beef is used only for meat, I doubt very much cows or bulls are the
origin of the phrase, though I suppose if it came from the cattle
drivers on the mid to late 19th century in the US West?
Also, when did it migrate to BrE?
Any somewhat suspicious homophones in other languages it might be a
corruption of?
4. A protest, (ground for) complaint, grievance. slang (originally
U.S.). Cf. beef v. 4.
1900 G. Ade Fables in Slang 80 He made a Horrible Beef because
he couldn't get Loaf Sugar for his Coffee.
<snip later quotations>
beef v.
4. intransitive. To complain, grumble, protest. slang (originally
U.S.).
1888 N.Y. World 13 May (Farmer) He'll beef an' kick like a steer
an' let on he won't never wear 'em.
<snip other US quotations>
1930 P. G. Wodehouse Very Good, Jeeves iii. 74 You have beefed
about Miss Wickham.
<snip>
I assume that when Wodehouse used "beef" it would already have been in
use and therefore understood by readers.
Was he already Over Here when he wrote that? Has he unwittingly imported
an Americanism into Edwardian English?
Peter Duncanson [BrE]
2019-10-19 18:08:42 UTC
Reply
Permalink
On Sat, 19 Oct 2019 08:22:15 -0700 (PDT), "Peter T. Daniels"
Post by Peter T. Daniels
Post by Peter Duncanson [BrE]
On Sat, 19 Oct 2019 11:08:10 -0000 (UTC), Lewis
Post by Lewis
Is the origin of the meaning of beef as in the phrase "I don't have a
beef with you" known? Any reasonable guesses?
Before anyone gets any wild ideas, I know it's over 100 years old and
probably was common in speech in the 19th century long before it was
written down.
Cows are generally pretty easy going, though bulls are not, but since
beef is used only for meat, I doubt very much cows or bulls are the
origin of the phrase, though I suppose if it came from the cattle
drivers on the mid to late 19th century in the US West?
Also, when did it migrate to BrE?
Any somewhat suspicious homophones in other languages it might be a
corruption of?
4. A protest, (ground for) complaint, grievance. slang (originally
U.S.). Cf. beef v. 4.
1900 G. Ade Fables in Slang 80 He made a Horrible Beef because
he couldn't get Loaf Sugar for his Coffee.
<snip later quotations>
beef v.
4. intransitive. To complain, grumble, protest. slang (originally
U.S.).
1888 N.Y. World 13 May (Farmer) He'll beef an' kick like a steer
an' let on he won't never wear 'em.
<snip other US quotations>
1930 P. G. Wodehouse Very Good, Jeeves iii. 74 You have beefed
about Miss Wickham.
<snip>
I assume that when Wodehouse used "beef" it would already have been in
use and therefore understood by readers.
Was he already Over Here when he wrote that?
Yes. He settled permanently in the USA in 1914.
Post by Peter T. Daniels
Has he unwittingly imported
an Americanism into Edwardian English?
That seems very possible.
--
Peter Duncanson, UK
(in alt.usage.english)
Kerr-Mudd,John
2019-10-19 21:01:27 UTC
Reply
Permalink
On Sat, 19 Oct 2019 18:08:42 GMT, "Peter Duncanson [BrE]"
Post by Peter Duncanson [BrE]
On Sat, 19 Oct 2019 08:22:15 -0700 (PDT), "Peter T. Daniels"
Post by Peter T. Daniels
Post by Peter Duncanson [BrE]
On Sat, 19 Oct 2019 11:08:10 -0000 (UTC), Lewis
Post by Lewis
Is the origin of the meaning of beef as in the phrase "I don't have a
beef with you" known? Any reasonable guesses?
Before anyone gets any wild ideas, I know it's over 100 years old and
probably was common in speech in the 19th century long before it was
written down.
Cows are generally pretty easy going, though bulls are not, but since
beef is used only for meat, I doubt very much cows or bulls are the
origin of the phrase, though I suppose if it came from the cattle
drivers on the mid to late 19th century in the US West?
Also, when did it migrate to BrE?
Any somewhat suspicious homophones in other languages it might be a
corruption of?
4. A protest, (ground for) complaint, grievance. slang
(originally
Post by Peter Duncanson [BrE]
Post by Peter T. Daniels
Post by Peter Duncanson [BrE]
U.S.). Cf. beef v. 4.
1900 G. Ade Fables in Slang 80 He made a Horrible Beef because
he couldn't get Loaf Sugar for his Coffee.
<snip later quotations>
beef v.
4. intransitive. To complain, grumble, protest. slang (originally
U.S.).
1888 N.Y. World 13 May (Farmer) He'll beef an' kick like a
steer
Post by Peter T. Daniels
Post by Peter Duncanson [BrE]
an' let on he won't never wear 'em.
<snip other US quotations>
1930 P. G. Wodehouse Very Good, Jeeves iii. 74 You have beefed
about Miss Wickham.
<snip>
I assume that when Wodehouse used "beef" it would already have been in
use and therefore understood by readers.
Was he already Over Here when he wrote that?
Yes. He settled permanently in the USA in 1914.
How come the Nazi's had hold of him in 1940?
Post by Peter Duncanson [BrE]
Post by Peter T. Daniels
Has he unwittingly imported
an Americanism into Edwardian English?
That seems very possible.
--
Bah, and indeed, Humbug.
Joseph C. Fineman
2019-10-19 22:27:27 UTC
Reply
Permalink
Post by Kerr-Mudd,John
On Sat, 19 Oct 2019 18:08:42 GMT, "Peter Duncanson [BrE]"
Post by Peter Duncanson [BrE]
On Sat, 19 Oct 2019 08:22:15 -0700 (PDT), "Peter T. Daniels"
Post by Peter T. Daniels
Post by Peter Duncanson [BrE]
I assume that when Wodehouse used "beef" it would already have been
in use and therefore understood by readers.
Was he already Over Here when he wrote that?
Yes. He settled permanently in the USA in 1914.
How come the Nazi's had hold of him in 1940?
George Orwell wrote an amusing article about that. He was in Belgium (I
think it was) when they took over; they soon realized that he had no
political sense whatever, and they thought they could use him because he
made fun of the British. He was not, actually, much use.
--
--- Joe Fineman ***@verizon.net

||: Very few men of any sexual orientation can have an orgasm :||
||: while thinking about babies. :||
Peter Duncanson [BrE]
2019-10-19 22:54:14 UTC
Reply
Permalink
On Sat, 19 Oct 2019 21:01:27 -0000 (UTC), "Kerr-Mudd,John"
Post by Kerr-Mudd,John
On Sat, 19 Oct 2019 18:08:42 GMT, "Peter Duncanson [BrE]"
Post by Peter Duncanson [BrE]
On Sat, 19 Oct 2019 08:22:15 -0700 (PDT), "Peter T. Daniels"
Post by Peter T. Daniels
Post by Peter Duncanson [BrE]
On Sat, 19 Oct 2019 11:08:10 -0000 (UTC), Lewis
Post by Lewis
Is the origin of the meaning of beef as in the phrase "I don't have
a
Post by Peter Duncanson [BrE]
Post by Peter T. Daniels
Post by Peter Duncanson [BrE]
Post by Lewis
beef with you" known? Any reasonable guesses?
Before anyone gets any wild ideas, I know it's over 100 years old
and
Post by Peter Duncanson [BrE]
Post by Peter T. Daniels
Post by Peter Duncanson [BrE]
Post by Lewis
probably was common in speech in the 19th century long before it was
written down.
Cows are generally pretty easy going, though bulls are not, but
since
Post by Peter Duncanson [BrE]
Post by Peter T. Daniels
Post by Peter Duncanson [BrE]
Post by Lewis
beef is used only for meat, I doubt very much cows or bulls are the
origin of the phrase, though I suppose if it came from the cattle
drivers on the mid to late 19th century in the US West?
Also, when did it migrate to BrE?
Any somewhat suspicious homophones in other languages it might be a
corruption of?
4. A protest, (ground for) complaint, grievance. slang
(originally
Post by Peter Duncanson [BrE]
Post by Peter T. Daniels
Post by Peter Duncanson [BrE]
U.S.). Cf. beef v. 4.
1900 G. Ade Fables in Slang 80 He made a Horrible Beef
because
Post by Peter Duncanson [BrE]
Post by Peter T. Daniels
Post by Peter Duncanson [BrE]
he couldn't get Loaf Sugar for his Coffee.
<snip later quotations>
beef v.
4. intransitive. To complain, grumble, protest. slang (originally
U.S.).
1888 N.Y. World 13 May (Farmer) He'll beef an' kick like a
steer
Post by Peter T. Daniels
Post by Peter Duncanson [BrE]
an' let on he won't never wear 'em.
<snip other US quotations>
1930 P. G. Wodehouse Very Good, Jeeves iii. 74 You have
beefed
Post by Peter Duncanson [BrE]
Post by Peter T. Daniels
Post by Peter Duncanson [BrE]
about Miss Wickham.
<snip>
I assume that when Wodehouse used "beef" it would already have been
in
Post by Peter Duncanson [BrE]
Post by Peter T. Daniels
Post by Peter Duncanson [BrE]
use and therefore understood by readers.
Was he already Over Here when he wrote that?
Yes. He settled permanently in the USA in 1914.
How come the Nazi's had hold of him in 1940?
Perhaps I should have used more words!

I used "settled permanently" to mean that he went to live in the US
whereas until then he had been a frequent visitor to the US.

Also I was referring to his status when he wrote the book published in
in 1930.
Post by Kerr-Mudd,John
Post by Peter Duncanson [BrE]
Post by Peter T. Daniels
Has he unwittingly imported
an Americanism into Edwardian English?
That seems very possible.
--
Peter Duncanson, UK
(in alt.usage.english)
Athel Cornish-Bowden
2019-10-20 07:08:53 UTC
Reply
Permalink
Post by Kerr-Mudd,John
On Sat, 19 Oct 2019 18:08:42 GMT, "Peter Duncanson [BrE]"
Post by Peter Duncanson [BrE]
On Sat, 19 Oct 2019 08:22:15 -0700 (PDT), "Peter T. Daniels"
Post by Peter T. Daniels
[ … ]
Was he already Over Here when he wrote that?
Yes. He settled permanently in the USA in 1914.
Not as permanently as all that...
Post by Kerr-Mudd,John
How come the Nazi's had hold of him in 1940?
... He wasn't keen on paying British or American income tax, and was a
tax exile in France (Le Touquet) when he was captured by the Germans
and taken to Germany.
Post by Kerr-Mudd,John
Post by Peter Duncanson [BrE]
Post by Peter T. Daniels
Has he unwittingly imported
an Americanism into Edwardian English?
That seems very possible.
--
athel
GordonD
2019-10-23 10:57:48 UTC
Reply
Permalink
Post by Peter T. Daniels
Post by Peter Duncanson [BrE]
On Sat, 19 Oct 2019 11:08:10 -0000 (UTC), Lewis
Post by Lewis
Is the origin of the meaning of beef as in the phrase "I don't have a
beef with you" known? Any reasonable guesses?
Before anyone gets any wild ideas, I know it's over 100 years old and
probably was common in speech in the 19th century long before it was
written down.
Cows are generally pretty easy going, though bulls are not, but since
beef is used only for meat, I doubt very much cows or bulls are the
origin of the phrase, though I suppose if it came from the cattle
drivers on the mid to late 19th century in the US West?
Also, when did it migrate to BrE?
Any somewhat suspicious homophones in other languages it might be a
corruption of?
4. A protest, (ground for) complaint, grievance. slang (originally
U.S.). Cf. beef v. 4.
1900 G. Ade Fables in Slang 80 He made a Horrible Beef because
he couldn't get Loaf Sugar for his Coffee.
<snip later quotations>
beef v.
4. intransitive. To complain, grumble, protest. slang (originally
U.S.).
1888 N.Y. World 13 May (Farmer) He'll beef an' kick like a steer
an' let on he won't never wear 'em.
<snip other US quotations>
1930 P. G. Wodehouse Very Good, Jeeves iii. 74 You have beefed
about Miss Wickham.
<snip>
I assume that when Wodehouse used "beef" it would already have been in
use and therefore understood by readers.
Was he already Over Here when he wrote that? Has he unwittingly imported
an Americanism into Edwardian English?
Twenty years too late for that. Georgian English, maybe.
--
Gordon Davie
Edinburgh, Scotland
Peter T. Daniels
2019-10-23 14:44:17 UTC
Reply
Permalink
Post by GordonD
Post by Peter T. Daniels
Post by Peter Duncanson [BrE]
On Sat, 19 Oct 2019 11:08:10 -0000 (UTC), Lewis
Post by Lewis
Is the origin of the meaning of beef as in the phrase "I don't have a
beef with you" known? Any reasonable guesses?
Before anyone gets any wild ideas, I know it's over 100 years old and
probably was common in speech in the 19th century long before it was
written down.
Cows are generally pretty easy going, though bulls are not, but since
beef is used only for meat, I doubt very much cows or bulls are the
origin of the phrase, though I suppose if it came from the cattle
drivers on the mid to late 19th century in the US West?
Also, when did it migrate to BrE?
Any somewhat suspicious homophones in other languages it might be a
corruption of?
4. A protest, (ground for) complaint, grievance. slang (originally
U.S.). Cf. beef v. 4.
1900 G. Ade Fables in Slang 80 He made a Horrible Beef because
he couldn't get Loaf Sugar for his Coffee.
<snip later quotations>
beef v.
4. intransitive. To complain, grumble, protest. slang (originally
U.S.).
1888 N.Y. World 13 May (Farmer) He'll beef an' kick like a steer
an' let on he won't never wear 'em.
<snip other US quotations>
1930 P. G. Wodehouse Very Good, Jeeves iii. 74 You have beefed
about Miss Wickham.
<snip>
I assume that when Wodehouse used "beef" it would already have been in
use and therefore understood by readers.
Was he already Over Here when he wrote that? Has he unwittingly imported
an Americanism into Edwardian English?
Twenty years too late for that. Georgian English, maybe.
To the extent that any of Wodehouse's fantasies can be located in time,
it is said that they are clearly Edwardian, not remotely contemporary
with the dates of composition.
Ian Jackson
2019-11-04 13:18:21 UTC
Reply
Permalink
Post by GordonD
Post by Peter T. Daniels
Post by Peter Duncanson [BrE]
On Sat, 19 Oct 2019 11:08:10 -0000 (UTC), Lewis
Post by Lewis
Is the origin of the meaning of beef as in the phrase "I don't have a
beef with you" known? Any reasonable guesses?
Before anyone gets any wild ideas, I know it's over 100 years old and
probably was common in speech in the 19th century long before it was
written down.
Cows are generally pretty easy going, though bulls are not, but since
beef is used only for meat, I doubt very much cows or bulls are the
origin of the phrase, though I suppose if it came from the cattle
drivers on the mid to late 19th century in the US West?
Also, when did it migrate to BrE?
Any somewhat suspicious homophones in other languages it might be a
corruption of?
4. A protest, (ground for) complaint, grievance. slang (originally
U.S.). Cf. beef v. 4.
1900 G. Ade Fables in Slang 80 He made a Horrible Beef because
he couldn't get Loaf Sugar for his Coffee.
<snip later quotations>
beef v.
4. intransitive. To complain, grumble, protest. slang (originally
U.S.).
1888 N.Y. World 13 May (Farmer) He'll beef an' kick like a steer
an' let on he won't never wear 'em.
<snip other US quotations>
1930 P. G. Wodehouse Very Good, Jeeves iii. 74 You have beefed
about Miss Wickham.
<snip>
I assume that when Wodehouse used "beef" it would already have been in
use and therefore understood by readers.
Was he already Over Here when he wrote that? Has he unwittingly imported
an Americanism into Edwardian English?
Twenty years too late for that. Georgian English, maybe.
I'm certainly familiar the Wodehouse usage.

And then there's "to beef up" - ie to strengthen or fortify.
--
Ian
b***@aol.com
2019-10-19 15:45:11 UTC
Reply
Permalink
Post by Lewis
Is the origin of the meaning of beef as in the phrase "I don't have a
beef with you" known? Any reasonable guesses?
Before anyone gets any wild ideas, I know it's over 100 years old and
probably was common in speech in the 19th century long before it was
written down.
Cows are generally pretty easy going, though bulls are not, but since
beef is used only for meat, I doubt very much cows or bulls are the
origin of the phrase, though I suppose if it came from the cattle
drivers on the mid to late 19th century in the US West?
Also, when did it migrate to BrE?
Any somewhat suspicious homophones in other languages it might be a
corruption of?
Maybe French "(se) rebiffer" (= "kick out against something")?
(With the "biff" part as pronounced in French sounding like "beef").
Post by Lewis
--
Lead me not into temptation, I can find the way.
Lewis
2019-10-20 12:49:21 UTC
Reply
Permalink
Post by b***@aol.com
Post by Lewis
Is the origin of the meaning of beef as in the phrase "I don't have a
beef with you" known? Any reasonable guesses?
Before anyone gets any wild ideas, I know it's over 100 years old and
probably was common in speech in the 19th century long before it was
written down.
Cows are generally pretty easy going, though bulls are not, but since
beef is used only for meat, I doubt very much cows or bulls are the
origin of the phrase, though I suppose if it came from the cattle
drivers on the mid to late 19th century in the US West?
Also, when did it migrate to BrE?
Any somewhat suspicious homophones in other languages it might be a
corruption of?
Maybe French "(se) rebiffer" (= "kick out against something")?
(With the "biff" part as pronounced in French sounding like "beef").
That makes mire sense than anything having to do with cows.
--
"Two years from now, spam will be solved," -- Bill Gates, January, 2004
Jerry Friedman
2019-10-19 17:04:12 UTC
Reply
Permalink
Post by Lewis
Is the origin of the meaning of beef as in the phrase "I don't have a
beef with you" known? Any reasonable guesses?
Before anyone gets any wild ideas, I know it's over 100 years old and
probably was common in speech in the 19th century long before it was
written down.
...
Etymonline says, "The origin and signification are unclear; perhaps it
traces to the common late 19c. complaint of soldiers about the quantity
or quality of beef rations."

https://www.etymonline.com/word/beef#etymonline_v_30050
--
Jerry Friedman
Peter Duncanson [BrE]
2019-10-19 18:17:11 UTC
Reply
Permalink
On Sat, 19 Oct 2019 11:04:12 -0600, Jerry Friedman
Post by Jerry Friedman
Post by Lewis
Is the origin of the meaning of beef as in the phrase "I don't have a
beef with you" known? Any reasonable guesses?
Before anyone gets any wild ideas, I know it's over 100 years old and
probably was common in speech in the 19th century long before it was
written down.
...
Etymonline says, "The origin and signification are unclear; perhaps it
traces to the common late 19c. complaint of soldiers about the quantity
or quality of beef rations."
https://www.etymonline.com/word/beef#etymonline_v_30050
The OED's entry for the verb "beef" has this sense:

To complain, grumble, protest. slang (originally U.S.).

The first quotation is:

1888 N.Y. World 13 May (Farmer) He'll beef an' kick like a steer
an' let on he won't never wear 'em.

which prompts the thought that "beef" might refer to the sounds made by
a complaining bovine. Or might not.

The etymology for the verb simply points to the noun (the animal flesh).
--
Peter Duncanson, UK
(in alt.usage.english)
Pierre Jelenc
2019-10-20 19:22:46 UTC
Reply
Permalink
Beef is the culinary name for meat from cattle, particularly
skeletal muscle.
Not only, though. Beef (pl. beeves) also means head of cattle:
https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/beeves

Pierre
--
Pierre Jelenc
The Gigometer www.gigometer.com
The NYC Beer Guide www.nycbeer.org
Ken Blake
2019-10-20 23:29:29 UTC
Reply
Permalink
Post by Pierre Jelenc
Beef is the culinary name for meat from cattle, particularly
skeletal muscle.
https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/beeves
Yes, but "beef" in that sense, is rarely used in AmE these days, and
"beeves" almost never.
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