beggar--it beggars the question

Language Log reports the phrase turning up in publications: I note the users are BE speakers. I've never heard it in AE. Have other AE speakers? Does it mean more than 'begs the question', a phrase which itself has contrasting meanings?

[A discussion of soccer/football players being traded]:

Although the move towards an XI bursting with fast, agile players ironically comes at a time when Chelsea are desperately seeking a ‘big-man’ to add to their armour. Using a physically imposing striker is also favoured by Manchester United and Tottenham. It beggars the question if Arsenal are heading down the right path

Arsenal news: Discarding Olivier Giroud to sign Aubameyang is a risk | Metro News

Of course the news journalist Piers Morgan, a British person, recently used the phrase.

Piers Morgan, writing about Omarosa, until recently a Trump aide.

"The wife-beater, the witch and the White House: Why the hell did Trump ever tell Rob Porter and Omarosa ‘you’re hired’?", Daily Mail 2/13/2018:


But I’ve never met anyone quite so relentlessly loathsome as Omarosa; a vicious, duplicitous, lying, conniving, backstabbing piece of work.

Which beggars the question: what the hell was she doing inside the world’s most powerful building for 12 months?

This reminds me of the eggcorns thread.
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  • owlman5

    Senior Member
    I see nothing more here than the continuing transformation/degeneration of "begs the question", Benny. I'm not sure which term I should use, "transformation" or "degeneration", when I talk about the extension in meaning that arose from popular misunderstanding of the phrase "to beg the question". At the moment, I still incline to the view that its use is substandard when people use "beg the question" or "beggar the question" to mean something like "raise the question."

    Enthusiasts of the extended meaning will presumably disagree with me, of course.:rolleyes:


    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    I'm with the strigineperson :) The whole issue beggars belief :D (vb (transitive, to be beyond the resources of (esp in the phrase to beggar description)
    However, we are noting that it is MetroNews and the DailyMail so no need to be seriously alarmed!


    Senior Member
    I must admit that it has been interesting to live in a time when a phrase, "to beg the question", became very popular among people who have never heard its original meaning or had any reason to do so. I imagine that during the long history of English many new meanings have come into the language through misuse of some word or phrase that originally had only a restricted, academic meaning.

    I never anticipated the "beggar" variation, though. Thanks, Benny, for an amusing and interesting thread.
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    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    It beggars the question if Arsenal are heading down the right path

    With that careless use of "if", they've managed to create an ambiguous sentence. If, and only if, Arsenal are heading down the right path, then the question is beggared.

    I approve of this new expression, which as Julian notes has more than an echo of "it beggars belief": if it catches on, perhaps it will allow the rest of us to use "beg the question" with its original meaning.