\ ˈbēd How to pronounce bead (audio) \

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

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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

Noun Beads of sweat began rolling down their faces. squeeze a bead or two of glue onto the seam
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Traditional troupes dressed in African cloth and cowrie beads, concluded the shows each night – a reiteration of Tassembédo’s belief that traditional dance should inform African experiments in modern dance. Clair Macdougall, Quartz Africa, "Photos: Burkina Faso’s contemporary dance festival turns the discourse away from terror," 3 Feb. 2020 Her new pieces are covered in small, colored plastic foam beads to suggest heathered wool or multicolored sand. Mark Jenkins, Washington Post, "In the galleries: ‘Sea of Change’ exhibition sets the voyage on a different course," 6 Dec. 2019 The students, who called themselves the Indians of All Tribes, offered $24 in glass beads and red cloth for Alcatraz. Ben Crair, Smithsonian, "Alcatraz’s Captivating Hold on History," 23 Oct. 2019 Tom, whose brow is covered in beads of sweat, has no time to talk but Exotic Babi does. Chris Gardner, The Hollywood Reporter, "Inside Tom's One-Hour Photo in L.A.'s Koreatown 24 Hours After Kacey Musgraves Made Him a Viral Star," 29 Aug. 2019 Ponytails and bangs coated in odd colors like metallic green, pale yellow, or sparkly glitter to match with crystal-embelessorized in small, shiny black beads to resemble a caviar texture, similar to more of the embellishments on the clothing. Kristen Bateman, Allure, "Schiaparelli Makes the Case for Matching Your Makeup to Your Outfit," 3 July 2019 So Mezzanine is going to be stored in DNA molecules, encased in tiny glass beads. David Meyer, Fortune, "Scientists Are Coding an Electronic Music Masterpiece Into DNA So It Can Last Forever," 24 Apr. 2018 Closer to home: Jeanne Verger, owner of Jeanne Verger Jewelry, specializes in mala beads, and is leading a mala-making class Aug. 26 at the Den Meditation studio in Studio City. Alene Dawson,, "How prayer beads can enhance your meditative lifestyle," 31 Mar. 2018 The new 870 Express Trap has a hardwood Monte Carlo stock, a 30-inch barrel with front and mid-bead, and three chokes to cover singles and handicap distances. Phil Bourjaily, Field & Stream, "First Look: Remington 870 Express Trap," 29 Jan. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The custom hand beaded embroidered lace gown and illusion tulle cape took 105 hours to create. Sarah Michaud,, "Maddie & Tae's Maddie Marlow Marries Jonah Font: All the Details from Their Tennessee Wedding," 23 Nov. 2019 Her Schiaparelli Couture hologram gown, hand-beaded with silver paillettes and gold stars, makes her not just a phoenix, but a goddess, too. Harper's BAZAAR, "Double Happiness: The Season's Luckiest Wedding Gowns—In China's Most Heavenly Setting," 30 Sep. 2019 Sheer floating volumes and intricate artisanal hand-beading maintained the connection with humanity. Washington Post, "Armani explores connection with nature in ethereal looks," 22 Sep. 2019 Sheer floating volumes and intricate artisanal hand-beading emphasized the connection with humanity. Colleen Barry, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Armani explores connection with nature in ethereal looks," 21 Sep. 2019 Inspired by masquerade balls, the new fall and winter collection includes eveningwear such as a pink tulle ballgown, velvet blazer and pants, and a delicate pink beaded bolero. Los Angeles Times, "H&M unveils its sustainable fall and winter 2019 Conscious Exclusive collection," 17 Sep. 2019 The cream and burnt red floor-length boatneck satin gown featuring gold embroidery, sequins, beading and lion head metal medallion hardware has a medieval aesthetic, fitting for a knight. Emily J. Sullivan, The Hollywood Reporter, "Emmys: Gwendoline Christie Surprises in Gucci "Jesus" Gown," 23 Sep. 2019 If the stripper worked, more of the water should soak in and less should bead up. Jeanne Huber, Washington Post, "Restoring the color to slate that’s lost its blackness," 16 Sep. 2019 The looks incorporated natural references like banana leaf and orchid prints, dragonfly jewelry and butterfly beading on evening wear. Washington Post, "Armani explores connection with nature in ethereal looks," 22 Sep. 2019

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 entry 1

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Time Traveler for bead

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for bead

Last Updated

15 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Bead.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for bead


How to pronounce bead (audio)

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 How to pronounce bead (audio) \

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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for bead

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with 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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