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I would like to know what does this phrase means:

"Why don't you just beat it?"

My dictionary says only that: beat it: get lost
Can you beat it? : Do you get it?

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2 Answers

up vote 12 down vote accepted

It means "why don't you leave?", and comes from "beat a retreat", which itself comes from the use of drums to signal soldiers to leave the battle field.

Find it all here: http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/58800.html

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And of course there's always Michael Jackson's song, Beat It. He used it in this sense too. –  JLG May 14 '12 at 13:54
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"Beat it" has various other mainly sexual meanings, so it depends on the context. See here: http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=beat+it

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The Urban Dictionary is not meant to be taken seriously... –  Roaring Fish May 14 '12 at 14:26
    
RE the page you reference: #1, 3, and 6 are all the same definition. Okay, sometimes two definitions of a word are similar, but as far as I can see these are exactly the same. #2 and #4 are also exactly the same, and are simply an example of definition #1. Just because a use of a phrase is particularly well-known doesn't make it another definition, it's just an example. #7 appears to be plain wrong: In the example given, "beat it" is referring to the Michael Jackson song, and it is the OBJECT of the verb whose definition they give, it is not the verb itself. ... –  Jay May 14 '12 at 15:20
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@RoaringFish While there is a lot of junk in urban dictionary, the example JAM cited is a relatively common slang term. –  Dan Neely May 14 '12 at 15:24
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@Jay AFAIK anyone can submit an entry to urban dictionary; and the only 'editing' it has is the cumulative effect of up/down votes to rank the definitions. Unfortunately that means that there's no way to get rid of garbage (although anything with a negative net voting score is probably safe to disregard) or to combine duplicates. –  Dan Neely May 14 '12 at 15:26
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@JoshuaDrake No, that's not what I meant. A well-known use of a word or phrase with a new meaning would make a new definition. But every use of a word is not a new definition. If 100 people use a word with the same meaning, that's 1 definition, not 100. A dictionary is supposed to list all the different meanings, not all the uses you can find with the same meaning. In this case, the most common definition of "beat it" is "leave". The Michael Jackson song is using the phrase with exactly that meaning. So that's not a new definition, it's just an example of using it with the standard definition. –  Jay May 15 '12 at 13:58
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