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

Each recorder features a beacon and transmitter to assist boats in retrieval. Fox News, "Watch NASA launch its Orion Moon capsule atop a missile in spectacular safety test," 3 July 2019 Thankfully, Andy’s mom is just bringing them to a nearby daycare, Sunnyside, which is a beacon of hope for the toys. Rachel Paige,, "Yep, You Need To Remember What Happened In Toy Story 3 To Watch Toy Story 4," 20 June 2019 Rogers follows the rules, leads by example, and is a beacon of hope and goodness. Alex Abad-santos, Vox, "The enduring legacy and fantasy of Captain America’s beard, explained," 18 June 2019 Chris has and always will be a beacon and light for children. Nick Powell, Houston Chronicle, "Search continues for missing Kemah police chief," 8 June 2019 Leah Chase was also a devoted patron of the arts, and the restaurant was a beacon for black artists. Shauna Stuart |,, "Congressman John Lewis on Leah Chase: ‘You felt at home in her presence’," 7 June 2019 The theme of his inaugural speech was the role of New York in the nation, and his desire for the state to be a beacon of progressive politics. Jimmy Vielkind, WSJ, "Cuomo Focuses on Immigration in Ellis Island Speech," 1 Jan. 2019 The fall was reported at about 7:30 a.m. and initial notification included the use of an emergency beacon, according to the Boulder County Sheriff’s Office. Kieran Nicholson, The Denver Post, "Climber rescued by Blackhawk helicopter after falling 200 feet down snowy Boulder County mountain," 11 June 2019 Diane von Furstenberg has always been a beacon of female empowerment in the fashion industry. Lauren Alexis Fisher, Harper's BAZAAR, "Diane von Furstenberg and Ashley Longshore's New Exhibit Celebrates Legendary Women," 8 Mar. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Find My Friends seemed to offer me no warning whatsoever that its settings had been changed to beacon my location to her in real-time. Andy Greenberg, WIRED, "The Simple Way Apple and Google Let Domestic Abusers Stalk Victims," 2 July 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

17 Jul 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).


characterized by aphorism

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