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

Synonyms: Verb

Antonyms: Verb

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Examples of beacon in a Sentence

Noun These countries are beacons of democracy. Our nation should be a beacon of peace to people around the world. Verb a lone lighthouse beacons the entrance to the island's only harbor
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Long-term relationships are already hard to maintain and participants’ secrecy is a beacon of the shame that the industry reinforces. Laura Stark, The New Republic, "The Hidden Racism of Vaccine Testing," 29 June 2020 Lighthouses are a beacon to captains and people curious about these rare, old navigational towers. oregonlive, "Zen-like getaways: Oregon offers calm vacation destinations (and ideas for your home)," 26 June 2020 Well, Peppy Grill is offering you a beacon in dark, 24-hour biscuits and gravy-lacking times. Cheryl V. Jackson, The Indianapolis Star, "Fountain Square favorite restaurant opens new location in the IUPUI area," 24 June 2020 After Trump's rally, Vernon AME projected a giant Black Lives Matter sign on the side of its sanctuary, creating a kind of beacon in the night. NBC News, "How Tulsa, Oklahoma, mirrored a fractured nation during Trump's rally," 21 June 2020 West strolls to a popular spot in the Greenwood District, where a large mural commemorates the neighborhood that was once known as Black Wall Street, at one time the beacon of hope for Black life. Chris James, CNN, "For Black Tulsa residents, the city's racial past and present hover over Trump rally," 20 June 2020 As much as the city is a beacon—for freedom, for refuge, for being a place where there’s an existing warren of every type of oddball imaginable—it’s also increasingly divided by income inequality and gentrification. Elias Williams, National Geographic, "New York’s arts scene remains shut down indefinitely—can it evolve and survive?," 15 June 2020 Lighthouses are a beacon to captains and people curious about these rare, old navigational towers. oregonlive, "Oregon getaways for the whole family: Are you ready to plan for fun on the water?," 12 June 2020 The school district, with five schools and 4,800 students, plans to test a system that would require each student to wear an electronic beacon to track their location to within a few feet throughout the day. Will Knight, Wired, "Schools Turn to Surveillance Tech to Prevent Covid-19 Spread," 5 June 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The thumb drives would beacon back to her Black Hills colleagues and give them access to the prison's systems. Lily Hay Newman, Wired, "How a Hacker's Mom Broke Into a Prison—and the Warden's Computer," 26 Feb. 2020 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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Time Traveler for beacon

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for beacon

Last Updated

2 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Beacon.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 11 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for beacon


How to pronounce beacon (audio)

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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