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 The writings will touch on ideas including Elvish immortality and reincarnation, the powers of the Valar, the beasts of Númenor and the geography of the rivers and beacon-hills of Gondor. NBC News, "Unseen J.R.R. Tolkien writings to shed new light on his Middle-earth creations," 20 Nov. 2020 Amid the chaos of 2020, the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree arrived in New York City this week to act as a beacon of light, shining some hope on an otherwise very tough year. Sophie Lewis, CBS News, "Tiny owl rescued from Rockefeller Center Christmas tree after 3 days without food or water," 19 Nov. 2020 In countries like Hungary, where the democratic system has been corroded almost out of recognition, the vanquishing of Mr. Trump could serve as a beacon. Mark Landler, New York Times, "Does Trump’s Defeat Signal the Start of Populism’s Decline?," 10 Nov. 2020 And Abu Dhabi has proven more savvy than Riyadh in billing its version of political governance to the Western world -- and even to young Arabs who increasingly see it as a beacon of stability and progress, according to this year's Arab Youth Survey. Tamara Qiblawi, CNN, "The UAE takes steps towards modernization by decriminalizing alcohol and suicide," 9 Nov. 2020 Support from both Democrats and Republicans in Washington was strong, but some of the GOP’s loudest voices trumpeted the images as proof that America’s position in the world as a beacon of democracy remained unscathed. Timothy Mclaughlin, The Atlantic, "The Democracy Activists Who Love Trump," 31 Oct. 2020 The situation has also led to conversations about updating beacon certifications and standards, Vance says. Amelia Arvesen, Outside Online, "Are These Avalanche Beacons Malfunctioning?," 30 Oct. 2020 In the year that is 2020, the actress' kindness and generosity definitely serves as a beacon of light. Thatiana Diaz,, "Yalitza Aparicio Martínez Cut Off Her Hair For A Meaningful Cause," 28 Oct. 2020 For Coppin State to receive a grant named after Lewis is an honor for Middleton, who saw his activism as a beacon of light for Black youth. Kyle J. Andrews,, "Coppin State Student-Athlete Advisory Committee named recipient of John Lewis HBCU Grant," 26 Oct. 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

23 Nov 2020

Cite this Entry

“Beacon.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Nov. 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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