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I've heard this phrase mainly in old movies. From the context, I inferred that it was a mild form of swearing and not considered terribly offensive.

However, I'm not sure what the 'it' in 'beat it' referred to. Going by colloquial expressions such as 'beat the meat', I can only think of one logical answer to that. If it means what I think it means, it's a lot less mild than it sounds.

I feel that the usage of the phrase has declined drastically, as one hears it a lot less often currently. So it's difficult to correctly gauge the usage pattern now.

If someone could please shed some light on the historic context, meaning and current usage status of the phrase, that would be great. How offended should I be when someone tells me to 'beat it'?

marked as duplicate by anongoodnurse, mplungjan, Mitch, Chenmunka, choster Sep 26 '14 at 16:46

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    I would be offended. It is typically used to dismiss weaker individuals - to tell them to "get lost", go away and let the adults talk. – mplungjan Sep 26 '14 at 12:22
  • wiktionary: "(idiomatic, chiefly as imperative, pejorative, colloquial, dismissal) To leave; to go away." en.wiktionary.org/wiki/beat_it – Kris Sep 26 '14 at 13:04
  • It all depends on context. – Kris Sep 26 '14 at 13:05
  • It sound like you're referring to W.C Fields "Beat it kid you bother me" which basically mean "Get Away From Me". Coming from "beat feet" which mean "to hurry, hustle, esp. when departing" – Diana Sep 26 '14 at 15:38
  • @Diana: Thanks for the "beat feet" explanation. That clears things up. I always thought it was like "beat the meat" which is tantamount to "go f*** yourself" – Tushar Raj Sep 27 '14 at 12:38
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It sound like you're referring to W.C Fields "Beat it kid you bother me" which basically mean "Get Away From Me". Coming from "beat feet" which mean "to hurry, hustle, esp. when departing"

"How offended should I be when someone tells me to 'beat it'?" very

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I've never associated the "it" with any sort of flesh :)

It just means "get out of here" or "Scram!"

The phrase itself isn't usually insulting; "demeaning" is a better adjective. It's usually used by (for lack of better words) superiors to inferiors. E.g. an older brother might tell his younger brother to "beat it". But under certain circumstances I could see it being used in an insulting way.

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