\ 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 Reed (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 The pair turned to great reed warblers (Acrocephalus arundinaceus), relatively large songbirds that summer at a lake near Lund University. Elizabeth Pennisi, Science | AAAS, "Tiny songbirds cross deserts and seas by soaring three times higher than usual," 6 May 2021 Everyone blows a call a little differently, so finding your perfect combination of reed cut and stretch off the shelf is random. Will Brantley, Field & Stream, "Top Turkey Hunting Tactics to Try This Spring," 22 Mar. 2021 After a big funding boost from Congress and more than a year of research, Louisiana scientists may have a remedy for the plague decimating a tall, sturdy reed that binds the lower Mississippi River Delta and other coastal marshes together. Tristan Baurick,, "Louisiana scientists say a reviled plant could save the coast's insect-ravaged wetlands," 11 Dec. 2020 There’s a perception that double-reed mouth calls are just for beginners. Will Brantley, Field & Stream, "The 2020 Turkey Hunter’s Holiday Gift Guide," 24 Nov. 2020 Carmen Fantasy was a fun buffet of money tunes from Bizet’s eponymous opera, with stirring sounds from big solo reed stops. Scott Cantrell, Dallas News, "Mighty sounds from Todd Wilson and the Meyerson Symphony Center’s Fisk organ," 23 Nov. 2020 At the opposite extreme of color saturation is an almost all-white construction of paper pulp on a recycled reed fence. Washington Post, "In the galleries: A wide array of media carry election-year messages," 30 Oct. 2020 But conservatives, even anomalous ones like McCain, lean on the broken reed of the news media at their peril. Barton Swaim, WSJ, "‘The Luckiest Man’ Review: Remembering a Maverick," 12 Oct. 2020 Each of Homesick's beloved candles is made from a natural soy wax blend and 100% organic cotton wicks that produce a clean burn (the brand also sells its scents in reed-diffuser form as well as in aromatherapy fragrance oils). Karina Hoshikawa,, "Homesick’s Nostalgic Candles Are On Sale (BRB, While We Stock Up For Fall)," 4 Sep. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Kristen Pumphrey and Thomas Neuberger’s home fragrance company offers vegan soy candles, reed diffusers, incense and room sprays. Los Angeles Times, "Ceramists. Bohemian modern architects. These 80+ women are redesigning L.A.," 3 Mar. 2021 Homesick: Pick up new scents that smell just like home with up to 20% off all candles and reed diffusers. Cnn Underscored Staff, CNN Underscored, "300+ Cyber Monday sales you can still shop today," 1 Dec. 2020 Homesick: Pick up new scents that smell just like home with up to 25% off all candles and reed diffusers. Cnn Underscored Staff, CNN Underscored, "400+ Black Friday sales you can shop right now," 27 Nov. 2020 Although most objects in this show include calligraphy, there's also a silver 19th-century pen box, studded with coins and beads, used to store reed pens. Alicia Eler, Star Tribune, "Minneapolis Institute of Art enlists a Somali partner to display Islam's highest art form," 5 Nov. 2020 Instead, the Romans’ post-bath ritual involved anointing the body with oils and scraping excess grease away with a metal or reed tool known as a strigil. Alex Fox, Smithsonian Magazine, "Archaeologists Find 1,200-Year-Old Soap Factory in Israel," 20 Aug. 2020 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

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

11 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Reed.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 15 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for reed



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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