When we refer to someone as beefy we generally mean that they are strong, muscly and robust. But why do we associate these qualities with beef of all things?
Beef has been associated with strength and health for many years. There are several theories as to why this is the case:
Theory 1: Beef has been known as a nutritious, strength-giving food
One theory is that beef became slang for “strong” because for hundreds of years it was considered an extremely nourishing food. Meat is indeed more nutrient-rich than staple foods like rice or potatoes so it’s strength-related reputation may be related to this.
Theory 2: Beef itself is muscle, so beefy became connected to being muscular
Any chunk of meat is made of mostly muscle, so it may be that the term beefy for a muscular man came to its meaning through this connection.
Theory 3: The ox has been associated with strength throughout history
One quality that is often given to bulls and oxen is strength. This may harken back to the days when oxen were used to help people plow their fields and work the land. Oxen were known for their powerful ability to withstand hard work. To this day the Chinese Horoscope uses the related qualities to describe people born in the year of the Ox.
In the world of rodeos bulls are known as powerful and determinedly unwilling to let anyone ride them. They are also often depicted in cartoons as displaying intimidating strength and rage when provoked. This animalistic strength and testosterone-driven aggressiveness may be linked to the meaning of the word beefy.
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