beam

noun
\ ˈbēm \

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.

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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

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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Remember when there were a few dim beams of (irrational) hope that Ivanka Trump could be some sort of secret resistance warrior in the Trump White House? Michelle Ruiz, Vogue, "Meanwhile, in China, Ivanka Trump’s Business Doesn’t Seem So Defunct After All," 22 Jan. 2019 Robes and beards are easy enough to track down, but sword-like hilts that project concentrated beams of controlled, tactile light are still at least a few years out. Sam Machkovech, Ars Technica, "Hands-on with a $434 replica lightsaber: May the dork be with you," 25 Dec. 2018 His mane, wet, is the color of dark wood, glimmering with beams of honey, and falls just past where his barn door shoulders stop flexing. Alex Abad-santos, Vox, "Aquaman goes for broke and lands somewhere between overstuffed marine opera and cheesy comic book fun," 11 Dec. 2018 The Trillion Planet Survey has begun scanning the huge Andromeda galaxy, as well as our own Milky Way, for beams of light that could have been produced by advanced alien civilizations. Mike Wall, Space.com, "Student Project Scans Sky for Alien Laser Beams," 29 Sep. 2018 Rather than being instantaneous like a bullet, the beam has to stay focused on the drone for a period of time to melt or burn it enough to bring it down. David Hambling, Popular Mechanics, "What Are Airports Going to Do About Drones?," 9 Jan. 2019 Then the concrete beams will be demolished with a crab-claw-shape tool. Mike Lindblom, The Seattle Times, "Seattle’s big demolition spectacle: How crews plan to pulverize the Alaskan Way Viaduct," 5 Dec. 2018 The credits scene shows Manta and Shin making a pact: Shin will help Manta find out Aquaman’s true identity and repair Manta’s laser beam-firing helmet and Manta will reveal the secret of Atlantis to him. Alex Abad-santos, Vox, "Aquaman’s post-credits scene, explained," 21 Dec. 2018 Uh, pink pool table anyone? Exposed concrete beams and rustic wood ceilings remind you of the home's industrial origins, but everything else feels modern and chic. Maggie Burch, House Beautiful, "This Former Power Plant Is Hiding An Impeccable Modern Home," 11 Dec. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The spacecraft beams two civilian signals to the planet, which gives the GPS III the ability to directly detect and correct errors caused by the ionosphere. Joe Pappalardo, Popular Mechanics, "USAF's Next-Gen GPS Satellites Will Be a Huge Upgrade...Eventually," 26 Dec. 2018 That’s enough to power a variety of sensors and beam their data back to a cell tower every 5 to 10 minutes. Christopher Mims, WSJ, "Here Comes ‘Smart Dust,’ the Tiny Computers That Pull Power from the Air," 8 Nov. 2018 Like any proud parent, King Felipe was beaming at his daughter. Chloe Foussianes, Town & Country, "Spain's 13-Year-Old Princess Leonor Makes Her First Public Speech," 31 Oct. 2018 The interior sports beamed ceilings and walls of windows, as well as an open-plan great room anchored by a brick fireplace. Samantha Weiss Hills, Curbed, "A Portland couple trades in a farmhouse for their midcentury dream home," 27 Aug. 2018 Last year, Loon beamed connections to Peru after floods there and Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria. Jack Nicas, New York Times, "Google’s Parent Births New Businesses: Balloons and Drones," 11 July 2018 Roberts is the tall, bearded gentleman at the far right who was literally beaming from ear to ear in support of his history-making girlfriend. Katherine J. Igoe, Marie Claire, "Who Is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's Boyfriend Riley Roberts?," 15 Jan. 2019 But at the same time his ashes were lowered into the ground, his voice was beamed from Earth thousands of light-years away toward the nearest known black hole in the universe. Lindsey Bever, Washington Post, "Stephen Hawking’s farewell: As his ashes were buried, his voice was beamed into space," 15 June 2018 For instance, the speaker only plays nice with Apple Music, and other streaming services must rely on AirPlay to beam music from an iOS device to the speaker itself. Nick Statt, The Verge, "Apple sold an estimated 600,000 HomePods in the first quarter of the year," 17 May 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.

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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

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Statistics for beam

Last Updated

17 Feb 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for beam

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

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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 \

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 \

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

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about beam

Comments on beam

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excited commotion or publicity

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