\ ˈbēd \

Definition of bead

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a obsolete : prayer usually used in plural
b beads plural : a series of prayers and meditations made with a rosary
2 : a small piece of material pierced for threading on a string or wire (as in a rosary)

3 beads plural

a : rosary
b : a necklace of beads or pearls
4 : a small ball-shaped body: such as
a : a drop of sweat or blood
b : a bubble formed in or on a beverage
c : a small metal knob on a firearm used as a front sight
d : a blob or a line of weld metal
5 : a projecting rim, band, or molding
6 : a precise knowledge or understanding used in such phrases as get a bead on


beaded; beading; beads

Definition of bead (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to furnish, adorn, or cover with beads or beading
2 : to string together like beads

intransitive verb

: to form into a bead

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Other Words from bead


beader noun

Synonyms for bead

Synonyms: Noun

blob, driblet, drip, drop, droplet, glob, globule

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Did You Know?

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.

Examples of bead in a Sentence


Beads of sweat began rolling down their faces. squeeze a bead or two of glue onto the seam

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The 22-year-old content creator, YouTuber, and influencer has collaborated with the hairstylist on several stunning looks, like this puffy pigtails and braids combination, adorned with beads and cuffs. Jihan Forbes, Allure, "Five on Five: Get to Know Five of Instagram's Natural Hair Influencers," 16 July 2018 Savage Beauty Dressed in a black bead-and-lace peekaboo Stella McCartney number with a built-in shimmering nude slip, the star made a bold statement with her red Rapunzel-esque braid. Sophie Dodd,, "A Comprehensive Guide to All of Rihanna's Jaw-Dropping Met Gala Looks," 4 May 2018 While beads and rattles have been used in lures for years, studies show efficiency drops off because fish know the difference between unnatural and natural sounds, Hodges said. John Goodspeed, San Antonio Express-News, "San Antonio company hooks a winner with natural sounds in lures," 26 Apr. 2018 Participants will get to see live bands and DJs at many of the bars, along with drink deals, beads and party favors. John Petkovic,, "Bar crawls offer early start to St. Patrick's Day celebration," 7 Mar. 2018 The beauty mogul flaunted her not-so-subtle take on Instagram yesterday, posing in a skin-tight naked dress covered in crystal and pearl beads. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Kylie Jenner Channels Britney Spears in a Sparkly Beaded Naked Dress," 15 Dec. 2018 Conceived as the store’s pièce de résistance is a 60-foot pearl necklace in gilded glass beads by French sculptor Jean-Michel Othoniel. Erik Maza, Town & Country, "Chanel Sets Sail for New York City," 15 Nov. 2018 Her favorite activities include cooking, bead work and football. Tammy Ayer, The Seattle Times, "47 years, zero answers: 16-year-old Toppenish girl disappeared after Christmas Eve 1971. Her sister refuses to give up the search.," 4 Nov. 2018 The researchers also calculated that their engine could be demonstrated using something like a glass bead held by optical tweezers. Chris Lee, Ars Technica, "Pulsed engines provide high efficiency, output power, low fluctuations," 25 Sep. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Her pieces certainly stand out on their own, especially considering that both bodysuits and beading (hand-beaded bags, mostly) are two of the most prevalent trends in contemporary fashion and on social media right now. Brooke Bobb, Vogue, "Meet the Designer Behind Copenhagen’s Coolest New Line of Velvet Bodysuits," 28 Jan. 2019 Sis Kendall also put a gothic twist on Coachella staples, accessorizing a long, black lace dress with chunky pendant necklaces and forehead beading. Elizabeth Denton, Seventeen, "Celeb Fashion," 14 Apr. 2014 Meghan looked elegant in a white gown by Theia with beading details for the formal occasion. Maggie Maloney, Town & Country, "Meghan Markle Wore a White Theia Gown for a Welcome Reception in Tonga," 25 Oct. 2018 During a special dinner with the king and queen of Tonga, Meghan Markle stepped out with Prince Harry in a stunning white Theia gown featuring cap sleeves and beading details. Megan Friedman, Harper's BAZAAR, "How Meghan Markle’s Tonga Dress Designer Figured Out She Was Pregnant," 25 Oct. 2018 While the older Jenner sister chose a $9,000 mini dress made completely of silver Swarovski crystals, Kylie opted for a more sporty shorts bodysuit in pink — hers beaded with 70 thousand Swarovski stones. Avery Matera, Teen Vogue, "Kylie Jenner's Birthday Jumpsuit Is Covered in 70,000 Swarovski Crystals," 10 Aug. 2018 Other bags are hand-crocheted or hand-beaded in India, and several are fancy enough to replace your evening clutch. Emily Farra, Vogue, "Summer’s Most Charming Bags Are Made in India, Inspired by Japan, and Arriving in New York Today," 25 June 2018 This is purely a list of useless but fulfilling stuff, like beading). Lena Dunham, Vogue, "Lena Dunham Explores Alone Time After a Break-Up," 11 May 2018 Bling is not restricted to jewelry, as more designers choose to embellish with pearls, beading and even sequins. Tony Bravo, San Francisco Chronicle, "Bridal gown trends veer toward modesty but don’t lack drama," 26 Jan. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'bead.' 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 bead


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1577, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for bead


Middle English bede prayer, prayer bead, from Old English bed, gebed prayer; akin to Old English biddan to entreat, pray — more at bid

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Statistics for bead

Last Updated

1 Feb 2019

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Time Traveler for bead

The first known use of bead was before the 12th century

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More Definitions for bead



English Language Learners Definition of bead

: a small, usually round piece of glass, wood, stone, etc., that has a hole through its center and that is put on a string with other similar pieces and worn as jewelry or that is sewn onto clothing
: a small, round drop of liquid (such as water or blood)


\ ˈbēd \

Kids Definition of bead

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a small piece of solid material with a hole through it by which it can be strung on a thread
2 : a small round drop of liquid a bead of sweat


beaded; beading

Kids Definition of bead (Entry 2 of 2)

: to decorate or cover with beads a beaded dress His face was beaded with sweat.

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More from Merriam-Webster on bead

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with bead

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for bead

Spanish Central: Translation of bead

Nglish: Translation of bead for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of bead for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about bead

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