What Does Browbeat Someone Into Something Mean?

Browbeat Someone Meaning

Definition: To intimidate someone.

Browbeat is nearly as violent as it sounds. If you beat someone, you are physically hurting him or her. If you browbeat someone, you are mentally intimidating him or her in the same way as someone who beats someone up would.

To browbeat someone into doing something, then, is to use scare tactics, bullying, and fear in order to force the person to do what you want.

Origin of Browbeat Someone Into Something

This is an old phrase that has been in use since the late 1500s. The phrase is somewhat unclear, however, because no one is quite sure whether browbeat refers to beating someone with a brow or beating someone in the brows. Either way could possibly make sense.

meaning of browbeating someoneFor example, if you were to beat someone with your eyebrows, you would be narrowing your eyes or glaring at that person. There is some evidence that this could be the origin of the phrase because of other common phrases involving brows, such as “beetle-browed,” which meant surly in appearance.

If the phrase means to beat someone in the brows, it could be that you are intimidating the person or making him feel so bad that he squints his eyes or even cries as a result of the comments.

Examples of Browbeat Someone Into Something

he browbeat meYou do not usually want to browbeat someone into getting your way. If you browbeat a person into doing what you want, he or she is only cooperating with you under duress.

If someone is browbeating you, he or she is not very persuasive in a positive manner. You do not want to interact with a person who talks down to you like that.

You might imagine police in an investigation browbeating someone. The “bad cop” or “tough cop” might try to extract information from a source by yelling at that person or using threats as a means of persuasion.

More Examples

  • He and his fellow jurors eventually browbeat the young woman into completely changing her story. –Houston Chronicle
  • So you don’t have to browbeat him. You don’t have to yell at him. –Chicago Sun-Times

Summary

The phrase to browbeat someone is to intimidate him or her into doing what you want.