\ 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

Other Words from bead


beader noun

Synonyms for bead

Synonyms: Noun

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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 Add a bead of acoustical sealant, which is formulated to stay flexible and not shrink, to close the gap between the bottom edge of the drywall and the floor. Jeanne Huber, Washington Post, 20 June 2022 The two boys playing with the water bead gun then began shooting toward a group of four individuals playing on the basketball court. Stephanie Pagones, Fox News, 18 June 2022 Golden was finally able to get a bead on the Knights starter in her third attempt, singling and driving in junior first baseman Macy McCoy. Jonathan Saxon, The Courier-Journal, 12 June 2022 Akron police say that in the moments leading up to the incident, one or more occupants in the victim’s vehicle were riding around the surrounding area shooting a water bead blaster. Julianne Mcshane, NBC News, 12 June 2022 Other accessories included layers of delicate gold chain necklaces, stacks of black bead bracelets, gold earrings, and a camel shawl. Chelsey Sanchez, Harper's BAZAAR, 7 June 2022 Many are pre-loved, in good condition overall, but sporting the odd tear, or missing bead, or, in the case of one dress, a stubborn sticky patch that might have been gum in a past life. Lane Sainty, The Arizona Republic, 28 Apr. 2022 The impact of Islam is clearly noted in this piece (above), which has Allah in Arabic inscribed on the gold drop bead of the pendant. Stellene Volandes, Town & Country, 11 May 2022 For fashion's biggest night, Khloé wore a glimmering gold bead fringe Moschino gown that hugged her curves. Jen Juneau,, 4 May 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb My sister and my cousins have all learned how to sew or bead the Ojibwe way, thanks to the guidance of our talented aunties (intricate floral beadwork is an Ojibwe signature). Christian Allaire, Vogue, 21 Mar. 2022 The exterior fabric caused water to bead on the surface, so the shorts never got saturated and stayed lightweight. Joe Jackson, Outside Online, 13 July 2015 Regardless of the material, wiper blades leave residue on the windshield; silicone is inherently hydrophobic, which should help water bead off your windshield. Matt Crisara, Popular Mechanics, 19 Oct. 2021 Sweat began to bead on her forehead shortly into the selection as her body rocked and swayed to the beat. Justin L. Mack, The Indianapolis Star, 4 July 2021 Immediately upon seeing Deng’s pieces, Alexandra commissioned her to bead a bag with a watermelon on it — something that Deng had never done before. Eliza Huber,, 7 June 2021 This adds an additional protective barrier, allowing bacterial fluids to bead up and reduce interaction time with the board. Chris Hachey, BGR, 19 May 2021 The durable canvas polyester material allows water to bead on top of the surface instead of soaking in, helping to prevent mildew or musty odors. Jessica Bennett, Better Homes & Gardens, 18 Mar. 2021 The artist got the idea to bead shoes in Peep’s honor last year, when she was commissioned to create a work for the Hood Museum in Hanover, New Hampshire. Christian Allaire, Vogue, 16 Mar. 2021 See More

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.

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

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

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Dictionary Entries Near bead



bead and butt

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Last Updated

5 Jul 2022

Cite this Entry

“Bead.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 Jul. 2022.

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More Definitions for bead


\ 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.

More from Merriam-Webster on bead

Nglish: Translation of bead for Spanish Speakers

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


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