beam

noun
\ ˈbēm How to pronounce beam (audio) \

Definition of beam

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : a long piece of heavy often squared timber suitable for use in construction
b weaving : a wood or metal cylinder in a loom on which the warp (see warp entry 1 sense 1a) is wound
c : the part of a plow to which handles, standard, and coulter are attached
d : the bar of a balance from which scales hang
e : one of the principal horizontal supporting members (as of a building or ship) a steel beam supporting a floor also : boom, spar the beam of a crane
f nautical : the extreme width of a ship at the widest part
g engines : an oscillating lever on a central axis receiving motion at one end from an engine connecting rod and transmitting it at the other
2a : a ray or shaft of light beams from the searchlights
b : a collection of nearly parallel rays (such as X-rays) or a stream of particles (such as electrons)
c : a constant directional radio signal transmitted for the guidance of pilots also : the course indicated by a radio beam
3 : the main stem of a deer's antler
4 : the width of the buttocks … immensely broad in the beam— Ann Bridge
on the beam
1 : following a guiding beam
2 : proceeding or operating correctly

beam

verb
beamed; beaming; beams

Definition of beam (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to emit in beams or as a beam (see beam entry 1 sense 2) The sun beamed its light through the window.
2 : to support with beams (see beam entry 1 sense 1) The house was beamed with heavy timbers.
3a : to transmit especially by satellite : broadcast … the 90-minute show was beamed to more than 200 countries and territories around the world.TV Guide
b : to transmit (data) electronically beaming images of the planet back to Earth The amount of data beamed over fiber-optic networks is rising exponentially every year, yet only 0.1% of fiber capacity is in use.— Leslie Cauley especially : to transmit (data) wirelessly Infrared connectivity enables users to work collaboratively on documents without having to log on to the network, and for quickly "beaming" data between different devices (for example, between two notebooks, or between a notebook and a printer, without a need for a cable). Newsweek
c : to direct to a particular audience a commercial beamed at middle-class voters

intransitive verb

1 : to send out rays of light Sunlight beamed through the window.
2 : to smile with joy The bride was beaming.

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms for beam

Synonyms: Noun

ray, shaft

Synonyms: Verb

radiate, ray, shine

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of beam in a Sentence

Noun

a bright beam of light We saw the beams from their flashlights. the building's steel support beams

Verb

She beamed as she told us the good news. They stood beaming with satisfaction. “We're getting married!” he beamed. The sun beamed its light through the window. Pictures of the distant planet were beamed back to the Earth.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

With exposed ceiling beams and a charming stone fireplace—decorated with more garland and candles, of course—this cozy room is where the group will want to hang out all weekend long. ELLE Decor, "This Holiday Party Is Anything But Traditional—And We're Obsessed," 30 Nov. 2018 There's exposed wood beams, a stone fireplace, and gorgeous hardwood floors. Sienna Fantozzi, House Beautiful, "You Can Now Live In A Replica Of The Salem Witch House," 31 Oct. 2018 Bright murals of Frida Kahlo and Hun Hunahpu, the Mayan god of corn, cover walls across from exposed wood beams and metal stools. Benjy Egel, sacbee, "Taqueria Maya owners open Mexican restaurant with a millennial twist in railyard," 12 July 2018 The kitchen has exposed beams, skylights, and custom mahogany cabinetry; a family room nearby leads to a deck. Jon Gorey, BostonGlobe.com, "For sale: Homes with water features in Hopkinton and Boxford," 25 May 2018 Under exposed wood beams reminiscent of the original Market, four artisan purveyors showcase on-site production of their culinary goods. Jessica Yadegaran, chicagotribune.com, "Seattle's new waterfront: Pike Place Market and beyond," 24 Apr. 2018 On average, the shell packages cost $90 to $120 per square foot, based on factors including window selection, amount of post-and-beam, the geometry of the design, and more, according to a Yankee Barn spokesperson. Maya Mcdowell, House Beautiful, "This Prefab Company Will Build You The Midcentury Modern Home Of Your Dreams," 5 Feb. 2019 After living in a neighborhood where house styles came in limited variations, the couple was drawn to the custom aspects of the Deza Estates house, as well as its classic post-and-beam construction. Samantha Weiss Hills, Curbed, "‘It was midcentury time capsule-meets-1980s’," 17 Dec. 2018 Adaptive Front Lighting helps increase safety during night driving by pointing the low-beam headlights in the direction the driver turns the wheels. Emma Jayne Williams, star-telegram, "Mazda6 sedan gets a major update for 2018, with more elegance, tech," 29 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Perhaps the most charming image to round off the week however, came from husband-and-wife duo Rick Owens and Michele Lamy who took a beaming selfie in Talinn, Estonia. Vogue, "The 19 Best Fashion Instagrams of the Week: Cardi B, Rick Owens, and More," 9 Mar. 2019 In pictures from the October 1990 screening at the Museum of Modern Art of Made in Milan, Martin Scorsese's documentary on the designer, Radziwill can be seen, beaming between the two men, in perfectly fitted black velvet. Stellene Volandes, Town & Country, "How Lee Radziwill Become the Ultimate Fashion Muse," 19 Feb. 2019 Yankee Barn Homes, for example, is a post-and-beam company that has built prefab homes since 1969. Maya Mcdowell, House Beautiful, "This Prefab Company Will Build You The Midcentury Modern Home Of Your Dreams," 5 Feb. 2019 And the sequences—described in punchy graphics beamed along the crown of each studio’s wall and synchronized to music—are easy to follow. Ashley Mateo, WSJ, "Why Boxing Is the Best Workout of 2019," 16 Jan. 2019 The images beaming out of the U.S.-Mexico border — migrants storming barricades, children gagging on tear gas — have intensified the debate regarding the Trump administration’s bare-knuckled approach to immigration. Kyle Swenson, The Seattle Times, "Ammon Bundy breaks with Trump on anti-migrant rhetoric: ‘It’s all fear-based’," 28 Nov. 2018 The pair were caught beaming at each other and sharing a kiss (or two) after exiting the stage, too. Megan Stein, Country Living, "Blake Shelton Gushes Over Girlfriend Gwen Stefani at the People's Choice Awards," 13 Nov. 2018 And elsewhere, America’s center of power kept doing business, perhaps too busy, uninterested, or preoccupied to drop everything and glue themselves to the television screens beaming out a stunning moment in U.S. history. Celeste Katz, Glamour, "A Tale of Two Cities: A Snapshot of Washington D.C. On the Historic Kavanaugh-Ford Hearing Day," 27 Sep. 2018 The chief departed from his conservative colleagues in Carpenter v United States, a Fourth Amendment ruling requiring authorities to get a search warrant before tracking individuals’ location through data beamed to cell-phone towers. The Economist, "Justice Kennedy is retiring. What happens now?," 30 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'beam.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of beam

Noun

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Verb

15th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for beam

Noun

Middle English beem, from Old English bēam tree, beam; akin to Old High German boum tree

Verb

Middle English bemen, verbal derivative of bem, beem beam entry 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about beam

Statistics for beam

Last Updated

17 Mar 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for beam

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for beam

beam

noun

English Language Learners Definition of beam

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a line of light coming from a source (such as the sun or a headlight)
: a line of energy, particles, etc., that cannot be seen
: a long and heavy piece of wood or metal that is used as a support in a building or ship

beam

verb

English Language Learners Definition of beam (Entry 2 of 2)

: to smile happily
: to say (something) while smiling happily
: to send out beams of light or energy

beam

noun
\ ˈbēm How to pronounce beam (audio) \

Kids Definition of beam

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a long heavy piece of timber or metal used as a main horizontal support of a building or a ship a ceiling beam
2 : a ray of light
3 : a radio wave sent out from an airport to guide pilots

beam

verb
beamed; beaming

Kids Definition of beam (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to send out beams of light Sunlight was beaming through the window.
2 : to smile with joy She beamed as she told us the good news.
3 : to aim a radio broadcast by use of a special antenna

beam

noun
\ ˈbēm How to pronounce beam (audio) \

Medical Definition of beam

1 : a ray or shaft of light
2 : a collection of nearly parallel rays (as X-rays) or a stream of particles (as electrons)

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on beam

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with beam

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for beam

Spanish Central: Translation of beam

Nglish: Translation of beam for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of beam for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about beam

Comments on beam

What made you want to look up beam? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

to boil down or concentrate

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Original Meanings Quiz

  • rembrandt-painting-a-young-scholar-and-his-tutor
  • Which of the following is the earliest known sense of the word awe?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Dictionary Devil

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!