bea·​con | \ ˈbē-kən \

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

Relatively tiny Bluetooth trackers like Tile depend on other Tile users to create a community of beacons. Thomas Ricker, The Verge, "Invoxia GPS Tracker review: longevity and range from a new kind of network," 31 Oct. 2018 But other methods of geolocation, including tracking nearby Wi-Fi networks and Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) beacons, are less obvious—but potentially even more accurate. Sean Gallagher, Ars Technica, "Dozens of iOS apps surreptitiously share user location data with tracking firms," 10 Sep. 2018 Setting your alarm system with an app, programming color tone for the time of day, ordering your groceries automatically—each of these can be a beacon to hackers. Sara Rodrigues, House Beautiful, "Smart Light Bulbs Can Expose Your Home To Theft," 19 Dec. 2018 Once on the ground, the lander will send out a beacon about 10 seconds after touchdown to alert engineers on Earth that the spacecraft is alive and firmly in place. Loren Grush, The Verge, "NASA’s InSight lander has just six and a half minutes to land on Mars in one piece," 21 Nov. 2018 The Prada Effect The retina-searing neon dresses, vests, and handbags filling Prada’s shop windows have become something of a beacon. Emily Farra, Vogue, "The 7 Biggest Street Style Trends of Spring 2019," 5 Oct. 2018 Instagram, which has grown rapidly and is popular with the younger generation of users who are less interested in Facebook, has been a consistent beacon of good news for a company that has had more than a year of bad news. Kurt Wagner, Recode, "Instagram’s co-founders, Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, are leaving amid frustrations with parent company Facebook," 25 Sep. 2018 That's a sharp turnabout of treasures for the oil-rich country, which throughout the 1970s and 1980s was considered the wealthiest nation in Latin America, and a beacon of stability and prosperity for those fleeing other conflicts. Hollie Mckay, Fox News, "Venezuelan opposition leader laments "genocide" in his country, reveals his escape from detainment," 18 Sep. 2018 Between 1960-1980, Otis would turn the L.A. Times into a swaggering, world-class beacon of light. Chris Erskine,, "As we pack up, a bittersweet ode to a workplace that was my second home," 29 June 2018

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

13 Feb 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 \

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).


excited commotion or publicity

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