\ 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


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.

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Synonyms for beam

Synonyms: Noun

ray, shaft

Synonyms: Verb

radiate, ray, shine

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Examples of beam in a Sentence


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


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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The two-deck stadium, the support beams for its translucent roof and its slender, nine-story office tower, are physically imposing and dominate adjacent buildings. • UO track athletes will have virtually every need contained within the stadium. oregonlive, "The University of Oregon’s new Hayward Field is taking shape, and it will be imposing," 12 Sep. 2019 The beams came from torpedoed shipping that had floated ashore. D. T. Max, The New Yorker, "In Search of Lost Sailboats," 10 Sep. 2019 Entering the large post and beam barn will transport you to a woodworking shop, where chairs are made and household items are carved and baskets are being made., "Community News For The Hebron Edition," 6 Sep. 2019 The cathedral-style great room has a stone fireplace, reclaimed wood beams and surround sound., "Barrington home in Fox Point: $1.6M," 6 Sep. 2019 Misawa’s dining room is straightforward in design, the ceilings lofted and exposed, with black paint covering the ductwork and beams. Lindsey Mcclave, The Courier-Journal, "This Japanese restaurant on Bardstown Road falls short of serving A+ sushi," 4 Sep. 2019 The village’s memorial includes a steel beam salvaged from the World Trade Center, as well as an eternal flame, fountain and etched glass panels inscribed with the names of the victims. Austen Erblat,, "Remembering 9/11: Events planned throughout Palm Beach County," 29 Aug. 2019 The property used to be known as Maplehurst Farm, and this building has been transformed into a family room, solarium, and half bath — a renovation that deliberately exposed the wood beams. John Ellement, Real Estate, "Home of the Week: For under $500,000, an updated Hanover farmhouse," 29 Aug. 2019 Rich wood beams top the living and dining rooms, and coffered ceilings hang over a billiards room with a custom wet bar. Jack Flemmingstaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, "Randy Jackson’s former Tarzana home makes its way to market once more," 28 Aug. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Even all these years later — seven, to be exact — the question comes at Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott as pointedly and relentlessly as if it had been beamed down from above. Jon Wilner, The Mercury News, "Pac-12 media strategy: Moving on from DirecTV, passing on ESPN’s offer and making a “different bet”," 21 Aug. 2019 Commercial to be directed by David Lynch and will not air on television but will be beamed directly into the ocean. Keaton Patti, The New Yorker, "Commercial Casting Breakdowns," 16 Aug. 2019 Two photons—each acting as a qubit—were beamed to Vienna and China. Daniel Garisto, Scientific American, "“Qutrit” Experiments Are a First in Quantum Teleportation," 6 Aug. 2019 Downstairs, a bonus room with white-painted beamed ceiling adds some flexibility. Jack Flemming,, "Hot Property: Rocker Lindsey Buckingham takes a bow in Brentwood," 13 July 2019 The games were beamed nationally and internationally by satellite on what was then superstation WGN. Phil Rosenthal,, "Steve Stone has seen it all in his time with the Cubs and White Sox: ‘Both of these fandoms are on a collision course’," 5 July 2019 The data is beamed up with enough bandwidth to ensure the blockchain stays up to date. Gregory Barber, WIRED, "The Cypherpunks Tapping Bitcoin via Ham Radio," 27 June 2019 Footage of thousands of desperate people fleeing burning villages was beamed across the world. Gaia Vince, Quartz, "How to survive in the world’s largest refugee camp," 8 June 2019 Paul was beaming and going on and on about Saoirse and freedom, freedom and Saoirse. Kevin Cullen,, "Courtney Kennedy and Paul Hill’s enduring agony," 3 Aug. 2019

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.

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First Known Use of beam


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


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

History and Etymology for beam


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


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

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Statistics for beam

Last Updated

15 Sep 2019

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Time Traveler for beam

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

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More Definitions for beam



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



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


\ 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


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


\ 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)

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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 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).


recurring in steady succession

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