that beggars belief

that is quite unbelievable


that beggars belief = es ist einfach unfassbar, (schlichtweg) unglaublich, kaum zu glauben, nicht zu fassen



“It BEGGARS BELIEF: Bed bug outbreaks highlight Tennant Creek public housing issues.”

Marty Smiley — ABC Net Headline (17th September 2023)

“A government MP has said it ‘BEGGARS BELIEF’ that more endangered Australian birds have been exported to Germany after a Guardian investigation revealed there had been multiple warnings that the birds could be sold to collectors at a huge profit.”

Philip Oltermann - The Guardian (5th February 2019)



Did you

beggars belief
idiom (chiefly British)

- to be unbelievable or not deserving to be believed

- to be impossible to believe or describe

Merriam-Webster / The Cambridge Dictionary


The idiom "beggars belief" is used to express that something is so extraordinary or unbelievable that it defies comprehension and leaves the listener in awe or disbelief.

The origin of this idiom can be traced back to the 17th century, where "beggar" was used as a verb meaning "to reduce to poverty" or "to exhaust the resources of". Over time, this evolved to convey the idea of something being so extreme that it "pauperizes" or "exhausts" belief.

For example, the breathtaking beauty of a sunset over the ocean can beggar belief, leaving one speechless in the face of such natural splendor. Similarly, when someone tells a big, bold lie, it can be hard to believe… it’s shocking how confident they are when they say it.

In short, the idiom "beggars belief" is a dramatic phrase conveying the sheer magnitude of something that is beyond the bounds of reason or our understanding.


Using fake identities, Matthew B. Cox—one of the most ingenious con men in history—cheated America’s biggest banks out of millions. Despite numerous encounters with bank security, state and federal authorities, Cox narrowly, and quite luckily, avoided capture for years.

Eventually, he topped the U.S. Secret Service’s most wanted list, and led the U.S. Marshals, FBI, and the Secret Service on a three year chase. Media sources describe Cox as “one of the most prolific mortgage fraud con artists of all time”, and “a gifted forger and silver-tongued liar.”

THANKS to Jacky for suggesting today’s OWAD.

SMUGGLE OWAD into an English conversation, say something like

“Have you heard of Matthew B. Cox? His stranger-than-fiction life story absolutely BEGGARS BELIEF — his biography “Shark in the Housing Pool” is currently a bestseller on Amazon."

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Paul Smith


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