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 Why else would Don DeLillo just be sitting there, the dome light like a beacon, summoning Harvey? Emma Cline, The New Yorker, "White Noise," 1 June 2020 Kids had just gotten out of school that Friday, March 20, for Spring Break, and the sun shone like a beacon, but the city wasn't expecting visitors -- not during a pandemic. Eliott C. Mclaughlin, CNN, "Coronavirus pits cities and states against each other as they try to stop spread from out-of-towners," 31 Mar. 2020 Someone's love might light up a room like a beacon. oregonlive, "Horoscope for March 28, 2020: Happy birthday Julia Stiles; Capricorn, relax, enjoy some hobbies," 28 Mar. 2020 As long as the games are shut down, Curry will continue to be a beacon of selfless, invaluable contribution. Bruce Jenkins,, "NBA’s long coronavirus layoff: a mixture of benefit and anxiety," 5 May 2020 With her recovery, my mother was a shining beacon of what was possible. Elizabeth Evitts Dickinson, Washington Post, "My mother’s childhood bout with polio paralyzed more than her body. I’ve spent much of my life trying to understand that paralysis.," 4 May 2020 Hungary was hardly a beacon of democracy before this pandemic started. Yasmeen Serhan, The Atlantic, "The Coronavirus Exposes the EU’s Limited Power," 2 Apr. 2020 As a beacon for the community, what is your message to those who still have yet to register? Evan Real, The Hollywood Reporter, "Billy Porter Says New Single Is a "Call to Arms" for People to Vote in 2020," 24 Apr. 2020 Beyond its obvious purpose as a beacon for alien civilizations, the benefits of the Strawbelisk are twofold: Ground crops are elevated, saving you lumbar stress, and critters are thwarted. Matt Bean, Sunset Magazine, "How to Build the Tesla of Raised Bed Planters, The Strawbelisk," 31 Mar. 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

4 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Beacon.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 Jun. 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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Comments on beacon

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