beaten their heads in


Senior Member
What does this phrase -- "beat someone's head in" -- mean, and why the "in" particle?

Found it in one of John Updike's books: "most men wouldn't have beaten their wives' heads in because of it."

Thank you!
  • Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    To beat something is to strike it.

    To beat it in is to strike it so violently as to cause a serious depression or breach in it.

    If you beat someone's head in, you kill them. In the passage quoted the person is probably speaking figuratively.

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    You can also beat things out - like carpets, to get the dust out of them, or dustbin lids to get out any dents they might have.

    Prepositions can be added with alarming ease to English verbs.
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