The beads you might wear around your neck once represented prayers. The Middle English word bede at first meant “a prayer.” People then, as now, often kept track of the number and order of a series of prayers with the help of a string of little balls. Because each of these balls stands for a prayer, the word bede came to be used for the balls themselves. Today this same word, now spelled bead, is used to refer to any small piece of material with a hole in it for threading on a string or wire.
NounBeads of sweat began rolling down their faces.
squeeze a bead or two of glue onto the seam
Recent Examples on the Web
Others worked on a long overcoat of dove-gray wool interlaced with rows of silver beads, mimicking the undulating texture of silk moiré.—Rachel Syme, The New Yorker, 18 Sep. 2023 Nigerian designer Kanyinsola Onalaja was also inspired by the importance of beads for her collection.—Irene Kim, Vogue, 15 Sep. 2023 As the show winds down to an all-white phase of summer day dresses and gowns, the material profile expands to arrays of jet beads, organza, and crepe.—Skylar Mitchell, Essence, 14 Sep. 2023 Share [Findings] Ostrich-shell beads indicating the onset of the Initial Upper Paleolithic were found to have reached Shuidonggou by 39000 bc, and strontium isotope levels revealed the social exchange of ostrich-shell beads during the Late Quaternary in the Karoo Supergroup.—Rafil Kroll-Zaidi, Harper's Magazine, 13 Sep. 2023 Concertgoers made so many friendship bracelets for Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour that stores sold out of letter beads.—Vulture, 13 Sep. 2023 Dang says her friends Erick Orzo and Devin & Athena, who are stylists in Los Angeles, spent about three hours pinning the beads onto the dress and doing Dang's makeup.—Jordan Greene, Peoplemag, 7 Sep. 2023 Finding a beverage that’s truly refreshing is the difference between spending your day in a heated tizzy, and being at peace with the single bead of sweat slowly dripping all the way down your back.—Sam Stone, Bon Appétit, 17 Aug. 2023 The beads on the sculpture were created in bronze and finished with gold.—Sophie Dweck, Town & Country, 8 Sep. 2023
And with regards to the water test, water beaded up on the product as suspected, but everything stayed in place with no streaking, running, or transfer.—Madison Yauger, Peoplemag, 21 Sep. 2023 Simon Miller sequin high-collar maxi dress Bottega Veneta Stretch square-toe leather mules
Tommy beaded bag
Don’t be afraid to mix it up!—Laura Jackson, Vogue, 15 Sep. 2023 The Riverdale star, who appeared at the amfAR Gala Venezia, wore a white gown covered in a romantic flower pattern featuring black beaded straps at the neckline.—Michelle Lee, Peoplemag, 5 Sep. 2023 The jacket features all the album’s song titles handwritten by Houston herself, which were then beaded by Bouwer.—cleveland, 9 Aug. 2023 Maybe that’s in the form of a bracelet beaded with her birthstones or a large candle of her favorite scent.—Gaby Keiderling, Harper's BAZAAR, 28 Aug. 2023 Will New Orleans native Stripling or his band mates toss Mardi Gras beads into the audience?—George Varga, San Diego Union-Tribune, 17 Aug. 2023 King George loves astronomy, so stars and moons are embroidered and beaded into their clothes.—Valli Herman, Los Angeles Times, 16 Aug. 2023 It’s treated with a water-resistant finish so rain will bead right off.—Todd Plummer, Robb Report, 16 Aug. 2023 See More
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Middle English bede prayer, prayer bead, from Old English bed, gebed prayer; akin to Old English biddan to entreat, pray — more at bid entry 1
First Known Use
before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a
: a small piece of solid material with a hole by which it can be strung on a thread
: a small round mass
beads of perspiration
: a small knob on a gun used in taking aim
: a rim or molding (as on a board or tire) that sticks out
2 of 2verb
: to cover with beads or beading
: to string together like beads
: to form into a bead
Middle English bede "prayer, rosary bead," from Old English bed "prayer"
The beads you might wear around your neck once represented prayers. The Middle English word bede at first meant "a prayer." People then, as now, often kept track of the number and order of a series of prayers with the help of a string of little balls. Because each of these balls stands for a prayer, the word bede came to be used for the balls themselves. Today this same word, now spelled bead, is used to refer to any small piece of material with a hole in it for threading on a string or wire. It has also been used to refer to any small, round object such as a drop of sweat.