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. Commented Aug 10, 2014 at 13:12

1 Answer 1


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.


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."

  • That's probably the reason I didn't understand the meaning: I thought beggars was used as noun.
    – avpaderno
    Commented Feb 18, 2011 at 1:12
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    @kiamlaluno: You could replace beggar with defies in that phrase, indeed I sometimes hear it that way.
    – Orbling
    Commented Feb 18, 2011 at 2:30
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    It is a perfectly cromulent word.
    – bye
    Commented Feb 18, 2011 at 6:27
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    @BrettAllen, certainly exists in British and Australian English Commented Mar 26, 2014 at 23:43
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    It is used in America, but infrequently. You will hear it mostly from older people. Google says it's usage has steadily declined since 1900. Commented Jun 5, 2017 at 16:20

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