\ ˈrēd How to pronounce reed (audio) \

Definition of reed

 (Entry 1 of 6)

1a : any of various tall grasses with slender often prominently jointed stems that grow especially in wet areas
b : a stem of a reed
c : a person or thing too weak to rely on : one easily swayed or overcome
2 : a growth or mass of reeds specifically : reeds for thatching
3 : arrow
4 : a wind instrument made from the hollow joint of a plant
5 : an ancient Hebrew unit of length equal to six cubits
6a : a thin elastic tongue (as of cane, wood, metal, or plastic) fastened at one end over an air opening in a wind instrument (such as a clarinet, organ pipe, or accordion) and set in vibration by an air current
b : a woodwind instrument that produces sound by the vibrating of a reed against the mouthpiece the reeds of an orchestra
7 : a device on a loom resembling a comb and used to space warp yarns evenly


reeded; reeding; reeds

Definition of reed (Entry 2 of 6)


biographical name (1)
\ ˈrēd How to pronounce Reed (audio) \

Definition of Reed (Entry 3 of 6)

John 1887–1920 American journalist, poet, and Communist


biographical name (2)

Definition of Reed (Entry 4 of 6)

Stanley Forman 1884–1980 American jurist


biographical name (3)

Definition of Reed (Entry 5 of 6)

Thomas Brackett 1839–1902 American politician


biographical name (4)

Definition of Reed (Entry 6 of 6)

Walter 1851–1902 American army surgeon

Illustration of reed

Illustration of reed


reed 6a

In the meaning defined above

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Other Words from reed


reedlike \ ˈrēd-​ˌlīk How to pronounce reedlike (audio) \ adjective

Synonyms & Antonyms for reed

Synonyms: Noun

Antonyms: Noun

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Examples of reed in a Sentence

Noun the reeds along the edge of a pond the reed section of the orchestra
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Having a reed break in the middle of a session is a buzzkill. Parker Hall, Wired, "The Best Gear to Learn Music Like a Pro," 21 June 2020 In preparation for the move, Kevin has sold or given away all his reed-making supplies. Tim Diovanni, Dallas News, "Farewell, Texas; Aloha, Hawaii: Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra musicians Karen and Kevin Hall will soon retire in paradise," 19 May 2020 Absent prosperity, Europhiles have leaned on the thin reed of supranational identity to make the case for European Union. Peter Rough, National Review, "The European Union Needs More National Flexibility," 22 Apr. 2020 Along its banks a frothy white scum pushes against the reeds. New York Times, "‘Writers & Lovers,’ by Lily King: An Excerpt," 3 Mar. 2020 This reed diffuser combines candles and a rock garden to up your Zen; on sale for $26.99 Check out Amazon’s wide variety in essential oils in every scent imaginable. Mike Rose, cleveland, "8 items to help you stress less and make your home more cozy during the coronavirus pandemic," 25 Apr. 2020 Harmonica-maker Hohner makes a travel melodica that teaches children to breathe air across reed plates and learn 25 keys without screens, smartphones or batteries. oregonlive, "Find easy-to-learn musical instruments and classes online to bring harmony to stay-home time," 13 Apr. 2020 From no-sew curtains to reed diffusers, DIYs can be great tools for interior design. Isabel Garcia, House Beautiful, "Why Tito's Doesn't Want People Using Its Vodka to Make Their Own Hand Sanitizers," 5 Mar. 2020 There are three bird observation spots where visitors can sit and watch birds come and go from the scenic pond, its banks lined with reeds and cattails. Peter Marteka,, "A swath of Bethlehem farmland to explore," 20 Sep. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The key to blowing a short-reed Canada or specklebelly call is moving a continuous amount of air through the call. Joe Genzel, Outdoor Life, "How to Hunt Ducks and Geese," 26 June 2020 According to Water at Largo's Coronet Theater in Los Angeles with pianist Patrick Warren, bassist David Piltch, reeds player Levon Henry, background vocalists JT Nero and Allison Russell from Birds of Chicago and drummer Jay Bellerose. Dan Ouellette, Billboard, "Joe Henry Shares a Romantic 'Gospel' In the Wake of Cancer Diagnosis," 6 Nov. 2019 The Heat could offer Reed its $4.3 mid-level room exception. Manny Navarro, miamiherald, "Willie Reed tells Heat he’s opting out, testing free agency," 1 June 2017 SOMEWHERE ON the coastal road between the Sicilian towns of Marzamemi and Siracusa, from behind the wheel, our guide pointed out the giant reeds growing above the Ionian sea. Charlotte Druckman, WSJ, "Sicily’s Superior Cannoli: A Guide for Connoisseurs—and Skeptics," 28 Jan. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'reed.' 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 reed


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


1951, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for reed


Middle English rede, from Old English hrēod; akin to Old High German hriot reed

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Time Traveler for reed

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for reed

Last Updated

27 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Reed.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 14 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for reed


How to pronounce Reed (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of reed

: a tall, thin grass that grows in wet areas
: a thin strip of wood, metal, or plastic inside some musical instruments (such as clarinets and oboes) that makes a sound when you blow over it
: a musical instrument that has a reed


\ ˈrēd How to pronounce reed (audio) \

Kids Definition of reed

1 : a tall slender grass that grows in wet areas
2 : a stem or a growth or mass of reeds
3 : a thin flexible piece of cane, plastic, or metal fastened to the mouthpiece of an instrument (as a clarinet) or over an air opening in an instrument (as an accordion) and made to vibrate by an air current

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More from Merriam-Webster on reed

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for reed

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with reed

Spanish Central: Translation of reed

Nglish: Translation of reed for Spanish Speakers

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

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