Beggar Belief

Meanings of “Beggar Belief”

The phrase “beggar belief” means to defy or exceed the common beliefs or belief system, unbelievable or something that has crossed the believable standards. It also means that something is not worthy of belief or trust. The phrase is also used to describe an impoverished person.

Origin of “Beggar Belief”

The phrase “beggar belief” seems to have originated in the 16th century from the word “beggar” but it has occurred in The Scheme and Completion of Prophecy which was published in 1830. It is stated that John Whitely used this phrase in this book to deny Biblical studies. It goes thus: “The truth and the grace of the Gospel, are so great and so numerous to surpass thought, and to beggar belief and even conjecture until experience should have taught us to estimate them by their loss.”

Examples in Literature

Example #1

The Beggars Belief by Conor O’Gara

They say beggars can’t be choosers
But not all beggars choose to be drug users.

Indeed, believe it or not
Some do choose life on the street
But its true that these individuals
You don’t often meet.

These above lines shed light on the people who do not live or mingle and live a secluded life. They defy common beliefs, conventions, and norms and are often considered drifters. The poet believes that beggars are addicted to drugs when they don’t have a choice. Surprisingly, a few people choose to live in the streets but we don’t come across such people. 

Example #2

The Cornish Invasion by Rob Bristol

Mission accomplished to little relief,
When greeted by storms which beggar belief,
Children look out for a sight of the sun
Which we have locked up, ‘til the season is done.

The poet used the phrase in its second line where it has explained the meanings of the storms that they have defied the previous disasters. They are fierce and dusty that children could not see the sun on that day. Hence, the people are locked up inside and cannot see the sun due to the dust storm.

Example #3

A Beggar’s Belief by Ashenspire

Drawn out like a neck; sweet masseuse of rope, and repeating, jamming cogs that form a threadbare noose
Start-stop, start-stop, dangling, twitching; trapdoor springboard
Thermopylae’s a broken record
I’ve got both lens and the audience to fight
You can spin the reel however you like
But the Spartans always die at the end of the film
Clawing hands of tar, discordant klaxons screaming bloody murder
It beggars belief, but believe me, we’ve nearly even scratched the surface

In the above lines of the song, the singer summarizes the entire scene of a film, perhaps 300, and describes how Spartans die at the end of the film. He asserts that despite the people unearthing every detail of it, still it seems “beggar’s belief” that the film has defied all the standards. The phrase has been used in its true meaning.

Example #4

The Kingmaker’s Daughter by Philippa Gregory

‘Well, let’s hope she is grateful for that, ‘she says sarcastically. ‘One of the greatest women in the kingdom and the dearest friend I ever had – and your father named her as a witch?’ She sakes her head. ‘It beggars belief.’

I say nothing. It beggars belief for me too.

D’ you know the sign for fortune’s wheel?’ She asks abruptly.

The novel sheds light on the palatial intrigues during the reign of King Richard III. The queen here tells Jacquetta how she is grateful for being the greatest woman in the kingdom. However, she also adds that her father does not like her, adding that it defies commonly accepted norms as she has married the king secretly.

Examples in Sentences

Example #1: “It beggars belief to suppose that trained intelligence officials were unaware of the circumstances in which suspects were detained. [Guardian].”

Example #2: “He is not involved in beggar belief narration about the valley like his friends who are excellent liars.”

Example #3: “A beggar belief of the war does not seem to satisfy the soldiers.”

Example #4: “It beggars belief that the GOP is willing to risk national default for the sake of antitax purity. [Newsweek].”

Example #5: “What beggars belief is the stupidity of his action. [Herald Sun].”