"Kate Cayley has beat out established writers including Margaret Atwood to win the 2015 Trillium Book Award worth $20,000."
"That should be beaten!" I harumphed schoolmarmishly.
But then the thought occurred to me (this rarely happens) that I might be (gasp) WRONG.
It's always a good idea to check some dictionaries before making a pronouncement. Most dictionaries give only "beaten" as the past participle of "beat", but Merriam-Webster's Collegiate and the Oxford English Dictionary acknowledge the existence of a past participle "beat". OED points out that, although "has beat" has been in use in all of the many senses of this verb since the Middle Ages, it most commonly occurs in the meaning "overcome, defeat, surpass".
Looking at some corpus databases of American English text, I discover that "has beaten" (in all senses) is now about 10 times as common as "has beat", but historically it was only about 5 times as common. So "has beat" may well be on its way out, but it's not quite dead yet.
The participial "beat" is firmly established in colloquial phrases like "It can't be beat" or "you've got me beat", and in the adjective "beat-up".
What is the past participle of "beat" for you? If you saw a participial "beat", would you automatically "correct" it to "beaten"? Would you call a dilapidated jalopy a "beat-up old car" or a "beaten-up old car"?
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