\ 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.

Synonyms for beam

Synonyms: Noun

Synonyms: Verb

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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. See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Meanwhile, Oklahoma continued its surge by logging a 49.725 on the bars and Florida posted a 49.5 on the beam, allowing the teams to overtake the Utes. The Salt Lake Tribune, 16 Apr. 2022 The Tigers’ score on beam put them in second, behind Michigan, after one rotation. Tom Green |, al, 14 Apr. 2022 Sophomore Skye Harper was put into the lineup last-minute and made her collegiate debut on beam with 9.800. Jenna Ortiz, The Arizona Republic, 31 Mar. 2022 Freshman Emma Malabuyo recorded her first 10 with a perfect score on beam, and Campbell earned her second 10 in three meets on floor en route to a career-high 39.725 in the all-around. Los Angeles Times, 12 Mar. 2022 Santos said details that caused ASU to lose ground in scoring included struggles with landing in beam and on bars. Jenna Ortiz, The Arizona Republic, 31 Mar. 2022 The vessel is equipped with a platform on either side of the main deck that results in a beam of 108 feet. Rachel Cormack, Robb Report, 18 Mar. 2022 His $1,500 mousetrap, introduced in 1977, came with a laser beam to detect mice and a polished walnut base. James R. Hagerty, WSJ, 29 Mar. 2022 The 551-foot-long, 185-passenger Discovery Yacht sliced through the swells like a laser beam cutting through ice. Christopher P. Baker, Travel + Leisure, 2 Mar. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Other rumors claimed that Apple will rely on Wi-Fi 6E to beam data between devices like the iPhone and the unreleased mixed reality glasses. Chris Smith, BGR, 22 Feb. 2022 Strange New Worlds' premiere is now streaming, and Paramount+ will beam up new episodes on Thursdays. Brendan Morrow, The Week, 5 May 2022 The majority of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 launches this year have carried the company’s Starlink satellites, which are used to beam the Internet to stations on the ground. Washington Post, 27 Apr. 2022 Google parent Alphabet in January 2021 shut down Loon, a project to beam internet service from high-altitude balloons, after the unit failed to develop a viable business model. Eric Ombok,, 3 Mar. 2022 Starlink, on the other hand, uses a collection of over 1,500 active satellites in Earth’s orbit to beam the high-speed internet to users on the planet. Michael Kan, PCMAG, 1 Mar. 2022 These terminals must be within several hundred miles of ground stations that communicate with Starlink satellites before the satellites beam signals down to those dishes. Marina Koren, The Atlantic, 28 Feb. 2022 Starlink uses satellites in low Earth orbit to beam internet access into places that don’t have working web infrastructure, like fiberoptic cables and cell towers. Nicolás Rivero, Quartz, 27 Feb. 2022 The headset includes a Samsung Galaxy smartphone that uses software to beam images captured by its camera onto still-functioning areas of the retina. Benoit Morenne, WSJ, 6 Jan. 2022 See More

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.

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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Time Traveler for beam

Time Traveler

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

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Last Updated

22 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Beam.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for beam


\ 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)

More from Merriam-Webster on beam

Nglish: Translation of beam for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of beam for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about beam


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