It is from the movie "Something's gotta give". The script is http://www.script-o-rama.com/movie_scripts/s/somethings-gotta-give-script-transcript.html

The following is the full sentence.

I'm saying this because for two people convinced they've got life beat, there was something cooking in the kitchen other than pancakes.

I think the word 'beat' is used as transitive verb in past particle form, but I could not figure out the correct meaning of the 'beat' with regard to the word 'life'.

  • 1
    When we beat an oppontent we are the victor. Compare "Chelsea beat Tottenham 1-0." At some point in the game, Chelsea players could think to themselves "We've got Tottenham beat". That is, we have them where we want them and we will be the victors. beat is, as you surmised, a non-standard form of the past participle.
    – TimR
    Commented May 12 at 21:02
  • And of course this is metaphorical, since we're not really in a competition with life. But there are many difficulties in life that we need to overcome, which make it like a competition.
    – Barmar
    Commented May 13 at 14:10
  • "got life beat" is just an idiom meaning "they are doing well". It's that simple!
    – Fattie
    Commented May 13 at 14:31
  • @Barmar I often puzzle over whether slang idioms are metaphorical, or not. For example "I literally had kittens" simply "means" "I was surprised slightly." there is absolutely no connection in any way to the underlying (historical or current) meanings (if any) of the words involved (in the example, defecating, being literal, etc etc) (come to think even the 'kittens' part is second order removed from anything to do with felines). It is exactly like homonyns. It's a "sheer coincidence" that the "same ascii symbols are used".
    – Fattie
    Commented May 13 at 14:47
  • 1
    @Fattie is just an idiom meaning "they are doing well". It's that simple! It's hilarious why anybody wouldn't understand this simple metaphor, you'd think people spoke different languages or somefink.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented May 13 at 17:10

3 Answers 3


"Beat" could be "beaten" in this example. And "got life beat" is a get-passive. Putting this together we can rephrase in an active voice, and with the relative clause made more explicit:

two people who are convinced that they have beaten life

To "beat life" suggests that someone who has worked out how to deal with all of life's problems.

The implication of "people convinced that they've got life beat" is that although they are "convinced", in fact they don't have life beaten. They are mistaken in their belief.

It is casual, almost slangy. but entirely natural and unsurprising, in context. "I've got X beat" is not an unusual turn of phrase. Eg Michael Douglas I've got cancer beat or several song lyrics that talk about "got the system beat" or got the game beat and even other example of got life beat

  • I am the OP, and I thank you every one for answering and making comments. I still have 2 questions. If, as some of you mentioned, this is an idiomatic expression, how is that this is not in any of the dictionaries, as far as I searched? If it is not, could this be the meaning "4 a: OVERCOME, DEFEAT" as in the Merriam-Webster dictionary merriam-webster.com/dictionary/beat ? However, the object of this meaning is usually a person or people, not 'life'. Thank you very much. Commented May 13 at 18:48
  • "idiomatic" doesn't mean "it is an idiom". Not every idiomatic phrase is in a dictionary. Yes, you usually defeat a person, but you can "beat the game" (in solitare) or beat the system (in a bureaucracy) and so why not "beat life" in some extended sense.
    – James K
    Commented May 13 at 20:19
  • Thank you James K for answering my questions. Is there any special connotation this expression has? Why would you want to say particularly this way to express this meaning while there are probably many other ways to say the same thing? Thank you very much. Commented May 14 at 2:12
  • I'll add some examples to the anwswer
    – James K
    Commented May 14 at 5:20
  • No. If this were get-passive, then it would mean that those two people were convinced that they had caused life to be defeated, but this isn't the meaning. See my answer for what I think the actual structure here is.
    – gotube
    Commented May 14 at 6:29

The underlying structure of "they've got life beat" is [ "get" + object + adjective ], meaning to cause object to be in an adjective state.

Here's another example:

I've got the presentation ready.

This structure is also commonly used with adverbials:

She has got me by the throat.
Will's got a fish on his line!
I've got him exactly where I want him.

In this context, "have got" is a synonym for "have" in the simple present (not present perfect), so they could also be written like this and have the same meaning:

I have the presentation ready.
She has me by the throat.
Will has a fish on his line!
I have him exactly where I want him.

Similarly, the end of your sentence could be rewritten:

...they have life beat

This shows there's no present perfect, and no passive voice here, just an adjective that happens to come from the past participle of "beat".

  • Thank you gotube for the comment. I was not asking about the grammatical structure. I could not understand the phrase 'got life beat' or 'beat life'. Thank you. Commented May 15 at 18:10

"I think the word beat is used as [speech category]

It is idiomatic spoken slang, so there is really no meaningful grammar category.

It's dangerous to say "it means 'beaten'" (as in a sports match, where there is a contest between two parties, both of which are playing a specific game, and one side wins) because all idioms quickly move dramatically away from the original "meaning of the words involved" and take on a new more general meaning.

"We got quantum mechanics beat!" "We got weeds beat!"

What is the meaning of "they've got life beat" - ?

"They are doing well in life."

  • Thank you Fattie for the comment. It helps to understand. Would average native speakers readily understand this expression? Thank you. Commented May 14 at 2:15
  • There is a grammatical category. See my answer.
    – gotube
    Commented May 14 at 6:52

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