bea·​con | \ ˈbē-kən How to pronounce beacon (audio) \

Definition of beacon

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a signal fire commonly on a hill, tower, or pole
2a : a lighthouse or other signal for guidance
b : a radio transmitter emitting signals to guide aircraft
3 : a source of light or inspiration … the beacon to the oppressed of all countries …— Adrienne Koch


beaconed; beaconing; beacons

Definition of beacon (Entry 2 of 2)

intransitive verb

: to shine as a beacon … Adventure beaconed from far off, and his heart leapt to greet the light.— Maurice Hewlett

transitive verb

: to furnish with a signal or a source of light or inspiration : to furnish with a beacon

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Synonyms & Antonyms for beacon

Synonyms: Noun

illuminant, lamp, light

Synonyms: Verb

bathe, emblaze, illume, illuminate, illumine, irradiate, light, lighten

Antonyms: Verb

blacken, darken, obfuscate

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Examples of beacon in a Sentence


These countries are beacons of democracy. Our nation should be a beacon of peace to people around the world.


a lone lighthouse beacons the entrance to the island's only harbor
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Some include 90-day underwater locator beacons, of obvious importance given the torturous experience of MH370. Joe Pappalardo, Popular Mechanics, "Why We Need a New Black Box," 7 May 2019 No malicious hardware was found in the audit, and no beacons or other network transmissions that would be indicative of a backdoor were detected in testing. Sean Gallagher, Ars Technica, "Audit: No Chinese surveillance implants in Supermicro boards found," 11 Dec. 2018 Flashing safety beacons are located at five Greenway intersections, including Claiborne Avenue, Galvez Street, Broad Street, Jefferson Davis Parkway and Carrollton Avenue. Jennifer Larino,, "A Jazz Fest guide for bicyclists (and drivers, too!)," 26 Apr. 2018 The two men were climbing onto the navigational day beacon near Port Everglades at 6:31 p.m., according to reports personnel at Coast Guard station in Miami received a distress call from bystanders. Anne Geggis,, "Coast Guard rescues two swimmers near Port Everglades," 14 Apr. 2018 Its employees mill around an office full of sunlight and computers, as well as beacons that track their location and interactions. The Economist, "Smile, you’re on cameraThere will be little privacy in the workplace of the future," 28 Mar. 2018 With a dense collection of shopping centers and malls, the area is a beacon for retailers in spite of local laws that force stores to close on Sundays. Lauren Coleman-lochner And Eliza Ronalds-hannon,, "Mall tenants had an out when giants like Macy's left. Now landlords bar the door," 9 July 2018 On the other hand his wife, Jane, was a beacon in the Rosendale community and beloved by all for her kindness and pure spirit. NBC News, "Behind the misleading claims fueling America's bourbon boom," 9 June 2018 Ford is, of course, always a beacon of confidence and sophistication in the fashion world, but this season especially. Vogue, "Go Inside Tom Ford’s Fall 2019 Ready-to-Wear Show," 10 Feb. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'beacon.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of beacon


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1650, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense

History and Etymology for beacon


Middle English beken, from Old English bēacen sign; akin to Old High German bouhhan sign


verbal derivative of beacon entry 1

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Statistics for beacon

Last Updated

22 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for beacon

The first known use of beacon was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for beacon



English Language Learners Definition of beacon

: a strong light that can be seen from far away and that is used to help guide ships, airplanes, etc.
: a radio signal that is broadcast to help guide ships, airplanes, etc.
: someone or something (such as a country) that guides or gives hope to others


bea·​con | \ ˈbē-kən How to pronounce beacon (audio) \

Kids Definition of beacon

1 : a guiding or warning light or fire on a high place
2 : a radio station that sends out signals to guide aircraft
3 : someone or something that guides or gives hope to others These countries are beacons of democracy.

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More from Merriam-Webster on beacon

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with beacon

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for beacon

Spanish Central: Translation of beacon

Nglish: Translation of beacon for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of beacon for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about beacon

Comments on beacon

What made you want to look up beacon? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a strong desire or propensity

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