beacon

1 of 2

noun

bea·​con ˈbē-kən How to pronounce beacon (audio)
1
a
: a lighthouse or other signal for guidance
b
: a radio transmitter emitting signals to guide aircraft
2
: a source of light or inspiration
… the beacon to the oppressed of all countries …Adrienne Koch
3
: a signal fire commonly on a hill, tower, or pole

beacon

2 of 2

verb

beaconed; beaconing; beacons

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

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
Recent Examples on the Web
Noun
By embracing empathic communication and striving to give value beyond initial engagements, your brand can be the beacon of trust and loyalty customers long for. Renae Gregoire, Forbes, 13 Feb. 2024 Adam’s father, John Walsh, became a household name and a beacon for parents like Mrs. Cotton, who felt alone and ignored by the authorities. Shaila Dewan Madeleine Hordinski, New York Times, 8 Feb. 2024 Hilton Pensacola Beach Rising like a beacon over the beach, the towering Hilton Pensacola Beach hotel is mere steps from the surf and sand, outfitted with a vast pool deck and a hidden gem restaurant, Bonsai, serving some of the best sushi in town. Staff Author Published, Travel + Leisure, 5 Feb. 2024 Their expertise elevates the standards of construction within Adams Farm Estates, ensuring that each dream home is not just a reflection of personal style but also a beacon of durability and efficiency. Prime Development, Kansas City Star, 4 Feb. 2024 Weather was moving in fast, and after circling the sheer rock five times, our pilot shot through a sliver of cloud opening for the big reveal: Perched at 6,000 feet at the head of the nearly 35-mile-long Ruth Glacier, Sheldon Chalet stood glowing like an alpine beacon. Jen Murphy, Robb Report, 3 Feb. 2024 The organization also encouraged carrying appropriate gear, including avalanche beacons when skiing in the backcountry. Nicole Blanchard, Idaho Statesman, 31 Jan. 2024 Wearing a black first baseman Logan Morrison T-shirt, orange baseball cap speckled with collectable pins, Marlins logo stylized sunglasses, nickel-sized Marlins logo earrings, homemade bracelets and with a matching orange Marlins phone case slung across her chest, Amador is a beacon of baseball. Chabeli Herrera, Miami Herald, 30 Jan. 2024 And, at a time when Google, Meta, Amazon, and other tech giants are laying workers off in droves, X can now claim to be an improbable beacon of opportunity for some, with job interviews in progress every week. Kylie Robison, Fortune, 30 Jan. 2024
Verb
Growing underground with their luminous flowers beaconing through the soil, around 90 species of Thismia have been discovered. Melissa Breyer, Treehugger, 27 Feb. 2023 In the meantime, January will beacon you into hermit mode, especially at the top of the month due to the Cancer full moon on Friday, January 6. Megan Spurrell, Condé Nast Traveler, 26 Dec. 2022 The thumb drives would beacon back to her Black Hills colleagues and give them access to the prison's systems. Lily Hay Newman, Wired, 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, 2 July 2019 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'beacon.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Noun

Middle English bekene, bikene, bekyn "signal fire, banner," going back to Old English bēacen "sign, portent, outward mark or appearance, standard, banner, monument, audible signal, signal fire," going back to West Germanic *baukna- (whence also Old Frisian bēken, bāken "sign, signal fire," Old Saxon bōkan "sign," Middle Dutch baken,(North Holland) beeken "signal, signal fire," boken "sign," Old High German bouhhan "sign, nod, portent, foreshadowing, banner," Old Norse bákn "sign" [probably borrowed from West Germanic]), of uncertain origin

Note: The older speculation on an origin for the Germanic etymon is discussed exhaustively by Anatoly Liberman in An Analytic Dictionary of English Etymology: An Introduction (University of Minnesota Press, 2008), pp. 3-9. Among the conjectures are descent from Indo-European *bheh2- "shine, give light, appear" (see fantasy entry 1), *bhou̯gh- "bend" (see bow entry 1), or *bherǵ- "shining" (see bright entry 1), with varying ablaut grades, root enlargements and degrees of phonetic attrition; and borrowing from Latin būcina "horn, trumpet" (used as a signal). Liberman's own hypothesis depends crucially on forms without -(V)n, as early modern Dutch baeck "beacon, lighthouse," claimed to be Middle Dutch by De Vries ("reeds m[iddel]n[eder]l[ands]") and van Wijk ("zeldzame vorm"), and Low German bak, bake. (M. Philippa, et al., Etymologisch Woordenboek van het Nederlands, on line at etymologiebank.nl, have it no earlier than 1559.) Liberman rejects the idea that these later words are simply shortened from the forms with n. Since *bak-/bāk- and *baukn- cannot be reconciled by ablaut rules, he hypothesizes that they are part of a large network of Germanic words built from the consonantal frame b-g/b-k that denote "objects capable of inflating themselves and making noise" (p. xxxiii). The Germanic etymon would hence have originally denoted a floating object (a bladder?) marking a channel, whence it was generalized to denote any kind of signal. The specific form *baukn- was formed by analogy with the semantically close derivative *taikn- "sign" (see token entry 1). Though the existence of the group of affective words that Liberman postulates seems highly probable, his inclusion of *baukn- in the group is questionable. Most notably, the forms alleged to have original short or long a are extant only in the coastal languages, Dutch and Low German, that could have borrowed the word from Frisian, where *-ā- is historically the regular outcome of *-au-. It would seem preferable to devise a way to delete the n (back-formation from a plural?) than to depend on a string of speculative semantic shifts ("inflated object that makes noise when squeezed" > "object that floats" > "float, buoy" > "marker, signal") to account for the words, even if this would continue to deprive us of an etymology. West Germanic *baukna- is not treated in G. Kroonen, Etymological Dictionary of Proto-Germanic (Brill, 2013).

Verb

verbal derivative of beacon entry 1

First Known Use

Noun

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 3

Verb

1650, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense

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

Dictionary Entries Near beacon

Cite this Entry

“Beacon.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/beacon. Accessed 23 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition

beacon

noun
bea·​con
ˈbē-kən
1
: a signal fire commonly on a hill, tower, or pole
2
a
: a guiding or warning signal (as a lighthouse)
b
: a radio station sending out signals to guide airplanes
3
: something that inspires
a beacon of hope

More from Merriam-Webster on beacon

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!