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What does beggars belief mean, in general and in this sentence?

It beggars belief that removing the tag was so urgent that you couldn't wait for a response more than 40 minutes before removing it.

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This expression's popularity suddenly rocketed in the UK around 1980. One assumes there was some reason why. See Ngram. –  Peter Shor Aug 10 at 13:12

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up vote 11 down vote accepted

It means that something is as close to unbelievable as it can get. To beggar something is to turn it into a pauper, squash it flat, eradicate it, or unembiggen it.

Webster's:

beggar belief (or description ) be too extraordinary to be believed or described.

Edit: Oh, by the way, beggar is used as a verb here.

Edit: Oh, yeah, so in this sentence it means "I can't believe you couldn't wait for more than 40 minutes for a response."

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That's probably the reason I didn't understand the meaning: I thought beggars was used as noun. –  kiamlaluno Feb 18 '11 at 1:12
    
@kiamlaluno: You could replace beggar with defies in that phrase, indeed I sometimes hear it that way. –  Orbling Feb 18 '11 at 2:30
    
What dialect of English is this? I've never heard it in American English. –  Brett Allen Feb 18 '11 at 3:52
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It is a perfectly cromulent word. –  bye Feb 18 '11 at 6:27
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@BrettAllen, certainly exists in British and Australian English –  drfrogsplat Mar 26 at 23:43

protected by Andrew Leach Aug 10 at 8:35

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