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

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms & Antonyms for beacon

Synonyms: Noun

illuminant, lamp, light

Synonyms: Verb

bathe, emblaze, illume, illuminate, illumine, irradiate, light, lighten

Antonyms: Verb

blacken, darken, obfuscate

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Horseback riders can now activate the flashing beacons for crossing without dismounting. Saja Hindi, The Denver Post, "City of Fort Collins, Larimer County install equestrian crosswalk button for horseback riders," 6 Aug. 2019 The National Park Service owns the lighthouse, and the Coast Guard still maintains the beacon that flashes seaward about 20 miles. USA TODAY, "Roller coaster ghost town, Alaska heat, rock hyrax pups: News from around our 50 states," 8 July 2019 Annabelle, the haunted doll, the beacon for evil spirits, the conduit for the demon at the center of 3/7ths of the Conjuring universe, appears as an Easter egg in both DC’s Aquaman and SHAZAM! Daniel Menegaz,, "Tracking Annabelle's confusing journey through the Conjuring universe," 27 June 2019 Woods and Koepka will be the beacons in a field full of spotlighted players beginning Thursday in the country’s 119th national championship at Pebble Beach Golf Links. James Raia, The Mercury News, "Dreaming of a Koepka vs. Woods finale at Pebble Beach," 13 June 2019 Setting up the beacons was the job of Pathfinder units who went ahead of the main force. David Hambling, Popular Mechanics, "The Return of 'That’s All, Brother': The Plane That Led the D-Day Invasion," 4 June 2019 Tagovailoa was the beacon of the preseason, but seven more of the SEC’s 14 programs also return starting quarterbacks in a league rarely celebrated for the position. Brent Zwerneman,, "SEC loaded with high-profile quarterbacks," 17 Aug. 2019 For Mexican Americans, El Paso is a beacon and, often, an entry point to the United States. Julia Wick, Los Angeles Times, "Newsletter: Orange County officially has more Democrats than Republicans," 8 Aug. 2019 Nobel Prize–winning, Morrison was a beacon of light, an inspiration. Malavika Kannan, Teen Vogue, "How Toni Morrison Changed Me As an 18-Year-Old Author," 7 Aug. 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about beacon

Statistics for beacon

Last Updated

11 Sep 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for beacon

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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.

Keep scrolling for more

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).


to make a temporary encampment

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Musical Words Quiz

  • gramophone
  • Which word describes a musical performance marked by the absence of instrumental accompaniment?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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