\ 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 The next day, in another part of the lab, Crook injected a small bead of acetic acid into one of the octopus’s arms. Anna Blaustein, Scientific American, "Octopus ‘Teachers’ Demonstrate They Feel Emotional Pain," 23 Apr. 2021 The bead is usually kevlar, rather than the steel cables in standard bike tires. Bob Beacham,, "The best folding bike tire," 10 Apr. 2021 Steelhead trout in the rivers will take a small bead that looks like a salmon egg, small marabou jigs tipped with maggots, waxworms, spawn bags, and small minnows. cleveland, "Arctic weather provides angling opportunities: NE Ohio fishing report for weekend of Feb. 12-14," 11 Feb. 2021 From the clunky bead pattern to the versatile, black and white color palette, this wallpaper from RoomMates bridges the gap between old and new. Kelsey Mulvey, Southern Living, "25 Vintage Peel and Stick Wallpaper That’ll Wow Your Walls," 9 Mar. 2021 Most fly anglers these days favor olive and black Wooly Buggers or various bead-head nymph patterns fished on a 4 or 5 weight outfit. Jim Gronaw,, "Jim Gronaw: The quest for native browns | OUTDOORS COMMENTARY," 6 Mar. 2021 Each bead would represent an amino acid, which are smaller molecules containing carbon, oxygen, hydrogen and sometimes sulfur atoms. Nathan Ahlgren, The Conversation, "What is a protein? A biologist explains," 13 Jan. 2021 The hormones, hopes and angst of young revelers at an ’80s house party, their precarious journey into adulthood captured in quick, unsure glances between prospective lovers or a bead of sweat running down a young man’s neck. Los Angeles Times, "Commentary: Of the Golden Globe nominees, ‘Small Axe’ is the one to catch up on first. Here’s why," 28 Feb. 2021 In the last several years, many small, eco-friendly, local bead companies have popped up, such as Bayou Throws and Atlas Handmade Beads. Michael Patrick Welch, The New Republic, "Mardi Gras Is an Environmental Disaster," 11 Feb. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb 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, "10 Prettiest Outdoor Pillows to Spruce Up Your Patio This Summer," 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, "A Bird With Character Inspired These Beautiful, Beaded Boots," 16 Mar. 2021 Moisture-repellent scrubs cause liquid to bead off the fabric. Sian Babish,, "The best scrub for women," 5 Mar. 2021 You are enclosed in darkness, as in a cave, but there is a reprieve — light leaking in through little orbs of glass that bead the walls, and a hole to the sky that lets in rain and, in winter, snow. Ligaya Mishan, New York Times, "How Can I Avoid Feeling Lonely When All My Friends Are Coupled Up?," 21 Sep. 2020 While the AirPods Pro share this rating, the Powerbeats Pro’s matte finish allowed the sweat to bead and drip off more quickly than the AirPods’ glossy finish. Jacob Krol, CNN Underscored, "The best true wireless earbuds of 2020," 28 Aug. 2020 The inside of the bag will bead with potable condensation when left in direct sunlight. Keith Mccafferty, Field & Stream, "The Ultimate Survival Guide to Finding and Purifying Water," 19 June 2020 The woven structure is designed to bead water, just like a coating. Andy Cochrane, Wired, "The Race to Design a Rain Jacket That Won't Kill the Planet," 22 Apr. 2020 The handwork—embroidery, featherwork, pleating, braiding, draping, beading, and the like—that goes into each piece is literally measured by the hours. Laird Borrelli-persson, Vogue, "A Couture Kaleidoscope: 26 Up-Close and Candid Moments From the Spring 2020 Season," 25 Jan. 2020

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

6 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Bead.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 May. 2021.

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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 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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