\ ˈrēd How to pronounce reed (audio) \

Definition of reed

 (Entry 1 of 2)

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 2)

Illustration of reed

Illustration of reed


reed 6a

In the meaning defined above

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 He was bested by a fiendish reed instrument called the saxophone. Bo Emerson, ajc, 20 July 2022 Dimitar took the reed out of his mouth and smiled at me. Sarah Souli, Travel + Leisure, 18 June 2022 Running through a hypnotic brass-and-reed-driven megamix of instant funk, Manu Dibango and Kool & the Gang riffs gave the Roots immediate command of the crowd. A.d. Amorosi, Variety, 6 June 2022 The prints were likely made by blowing red pigment through a hollow reed or bone over a hand used as a stencil. Joanna Thompson, Scientific American, 14 May 2022 Whereas most top prospects sign as 16-year-olds, Bello, a reed-thin 6-footer who weighed just over 130 pounds, joined the Sox as an 18-year-old in 2017, signing for less than $30,000. Globe Staff,, 12 May 2022 Last season, the reed-thin 6-foot wideout compiled 1,593 receiving yards and 17 touchdowns on 100 receptions. Nick Moyle, San Antonio Express-News, 10 May 2022 Both began lessons on the saxophone, then switched to more difficult double-reed instruments. New York Times, 22 Apr. 2022 In Sebungwe Mouth, one of the villages in Binga, Brandina Mundimba is using a reed known locally as malala to weave a basket which, when complete, will be transported to the market along with the rest and sold for 1500 Zimbabwean dollars (Z$) ($4). Farai Shawn Matiashe, CNN, 22 Apr. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Drinking water is from the desalination plant, rainwater is collected, and wastewater is cleaned via a series of aerobic, non-aerobic, UV, pond, and reed bed systems. Johanna Read, Forbes, 20 June 2022 The keyboard has reed switches, which use magnets to actuate. Scharon Harding, Ars Technica, 3 Dec. 2021 Thorne was 22 of 31 for 287 yards with a 51-yard touchdown pass to Montorie Foster and a 29-yard pass to Jayden reed for a score in the first quarter. Raul Dominguez,, 13 Nov. 2021 Lisa starts berating Chris, who appears on the verge of passing out from the one-two punch of wearing a three-piece suit under hot lights and huffing that box-fresh vanilla reed diffuser straight from the source. Olivia Crandall, Vulture, 4 Oct. 2021 After tittering over the album cover — which features the musician in silhouette, reed clenched between his teeth — Fallon shared a selection from the record, wincing all the while. Brenna Ehrlich, Rolling Stone, 13 Sep. 2021 And partitions are being installed in the orchestra pit to try to contain any aerosols emitted by reed and brass instruments. Michael Paulson, New York Times, 2 Aug. 2021 Roused by the recurring ripple of notes, Mr. Sanders’ initially raspy reed smoothes into lengthy, crystalline phrases. Stephen Humphries, The Christian Science Monitor, 23 June 2021 Why Its intimate Chamilandu Bushcamp has just three thatch-and-reed houses on stilts in an ebony grove on the banks of the Luangwa River—authentic African wilderness magic. Klara Glowczewska, Town & Country, 2 June 2021 See More

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.

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

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Last Updated

3 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Reed.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 9 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for 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

Reed biographical name (1)

\ ˈrēd How to pronounce Reed (audio) \

Definition of Reed

 (Entry 1 of 4)

John 1887–1920 American journalist, poet, and Communist


biographical name (2)

Definition of Reed (Entry 2 of 4)

Stanley Forman 1884–1980 American jurist


biographical name (3)

Definition of Reed (Entry 3 of 4)

Thomas Brackett 1839–1902 American politician


biographical name (4)

Definition of Reed (Entry 4 of 4)

Walter 1851–1902 American army surgeon

More from Merriam-Webster on reed

Nglish: Translation of reed for Spanish Speakers

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


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