\ 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 Drape West Elm's wooden bead garland ($30) across your mantel or down the center of a dining table to introduce a more organic feel. Jessica Bennett, Better Homes & Gardens, "5 Festive Decorating Trends to Steal from West Elm's Holiday Lookbook," 10 Nov. 2020 Bake bead in the oven according to directions and let cool completely. Kristin Koch, Seventeen, "13 Ridiculously Awesome DIY Gifts for Your BFFs," 9 Nov. 2020 This kit is best for those who have tried bead crocheting before, but the seller also offers a DIY tutorial video for any beginners who need some help getting started. Meghan Kavanaugh, USA TODAY, "41 thoughtful DIY gifts anyone would love," 4 Nov. 2020 Most shotguns come from the factory equipped with a small bead at the end of the barrel. Chris Mudgett, Outdoor Life, "Why a Shotgun Is a Great Option for Home Defense—Plus 3 Guns You Should Buy," 18 Sep. 2020 For bait, Stanczyk likes to pinch the tail fins off a live shrimp and rig them on light wire hooks with a small egg sinker above a glow bead. David A. Brown, Field & Stream, "Legendary Advice on Fishing the Florida Keys," 2 July 2020 Scientists think that the molecules may be trapped in bead-like structures in the soil, possibly formed as a result of the heat created by micrometeorite impacts transforming hydroxyl into water. Tyler Van Dyke, Washington Examiner, "NASA telescope finds water molecules on moon beyond polar ice caps," 26 Oct. 2020 When that dries, squeeze out the latex window glazing, using the applicator nozzle to help get a reasonably smooth bead. Washington Post, "When old windows need new glazing around the panes," 5 Oct. 2020 Next, cut a piece of heat-shrink tubing a tad larger than the bead. The Editors, Field & Stream, "10 Super-Simple, Crazy-Useful Fishing Tips," 10 Aug. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb 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 Relatedly, do something with your hands: crocheting, beading, embroidery, woodworking can provide great release. Hanna Kozlowska, Quartz, "15 ways to practice self-care in the time of coronavirus," 14 Mar. 2020 Williams was also able to produce the web pattern for non-American whiskeys by spiking the water-ethanol liquid with fatty acids and by performing the test on a highly water-repellant surface, so that the droplet beaded up very well. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "Forget that tired-old coffee ring effect: “Whiskey webs” are the new hotness," 25 Mar. 2020 The sisters employ refugees from Iraq and Syria to embroider and bead their edgy designs, which riff on Middle Eastern stereotypes and 1990s pop culture. Sheila Marikar, New York Times, "Five Places to Visit in Amman with a Hometown Fashion Designer," 28 Feb. 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

25 Nov 2020

Cite this Entry

“Bead.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Nov. 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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