\ 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 Apply a bead of construction adhesive across the top of one pallet, then set the second pallet on top. Andrew Freye, Popular Mechanics, 29 Oct. 2021 The bead is pearly and refined, the color is the faintest hue of salmon. Katie Kelly Bell, Forbes, 6 Nov. 2021 Annual bead and jewelry show featuring vendors from Alaska and Lower 48. Anchorage Daily News, 24 Sep. 2021 Hot-glue the wooden bead onto the beard at the edge of the hat. Sarah Martens, Better Homes & Gardens, 2 Sep. 2021 Minutes after their initial meeting an accident forces Woo-yeo to expel the gumiho bead. Joan Macdonald, Forbes, 27 May 2021 In a post on JAXA's website, Hayabusa 2 project manager, Yuichi Tsuda, likened the asteroid's strange, multifaceted shape to that of a crystal of the mineral fluorite or an abacus bead. NBC News, 12 Aug. 2021 Anchorage beader Sienna Shields will create an immersive bead installation, using miles of wires and hundreds of thousands of beads. Anchorage Daily News, 15 Sep. 2021 Families with their children -- as young as 13 months -- blew bubbles, created bead bracelets, tossed balloons, made crafts and played on the equipment at the Village Green. cleveland, 13 Sep. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb 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 Moisture-repellent scrubs cause liquid to bead off the fabric. Sian Babish,, 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, 21 Sep. 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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Dictionary Entries Near bead



bead and butt

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Last Updated

26 Nov 2021

Cite this Entry

“Bead.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Dec. 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.

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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