Definition: Beer

From New World Encyclopedia


From Middle English bere, from Old English bēor (beer) (Oxford English Dictionary notes: "rare, except in poetry"), from Proto-West Germanic *beuʀ, from Proto-Germanic *beuzą (beer) (putatively from Proto-Indo-European *bʰeusóm), meaning brewer's yeast. However, also see the "beer" entry on OED (q.v.), which links a connection to monastic Vulgar Latin *biber (a drink, beverage), from Latin bibere (to drink). Samuel Johnson in his famous eighteenth-century A Dictionary of the English Language guessed it was from (unattested) Welsh *bîr; he distinguished it in his time from ale — the ancient usual word — by beer being older-aged and/or smaller. Cognate with Saterland Frisian Bjoor, West Frisian bier, Low German Beer, Dutch bier, German Bier, Icelandic bjór (beer).


beer (countable and uncountable, plural beers)

  1. (uncountable) An alcoholic drink fermented from starch material, commonly barley malt; often with hops or some other substance (like gruit) to impart a bitter flavor.
    Beer is brewed all over the world.
  2. (uncountable) A fermented extract of the roots and other parts of various plants, as spruce, ginger, sassafras, etc.
  3. (uncountable) A solution produced by steeping plant materials in water or another fluid.
  4. (countable) A glass, bottle, or can of any of the above beverages.
    I bought a few beers from the shop for the party.
    Can I buy you a beer?
    I'd like two beers and a glass of white wine.
  5. (countable) A variety of the above beverages.
    Pilsner is one of the most commonly served beers in Europe.
    I haven't tried this beer before.

Derived terms

  • beer bar
  • beer bottle
  • beer can
  • beer cellar
  • beer cheese
  • beer garden
  • beer glass
  • beer parlor
  • beer run
  • beer tent
  • craft beer
  • ginger beer
  • near beer
  • root beer
  • root beer float
  • session beer
  • spruce beer
  • wheat beer


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