\ 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 Eight years ago, the Park Service began addressing a problem that’s common to area marshes: the spread of an invasive plant with the rather common name of common reed. Washington Post, 11 Sep. 2021 The food base, built in forested areas, is stocked with elephants' favorite plants like reed leaves and bananas, as well as five salt pools. Jessie Yeung, CNN, 10 Sep. 2021 Sometimes, the female will hold tight onto something like a reed to avoid the mating flight altogether, as can be seen in the video above. Claire Hogan, Science | AAAS, 12 Aug. 2021 One priority for eastern Wisconsin is to prevent non-native phragmites, or common reed grass, from expanding farther west, said Granberg. Brittany Trang, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 10 Aug. 2021 Payne shared the story of the huge oak tree and the small reed. Bryan Robinson, Forbes, 1 June 2021 But if dad prefers a reed diffuser to a traditional candle, the Aura Reed Diffuser certainly won’t disappoint. Amanda Lauren, Forbes, 28 May 2021 Zoltan Kun, a conservationist and environmental protection expert, said that while Balaton's water quality has significantly improved since the 1990s, the decreased reed coverage threatens to throw the complex ecosystem into imbalance. Star Tribune, 25 May 2021 In the case of the 172-acre Governors Island, much of which is overseen by a nonprofit trust, the farm animals were seen as a helpful way to deal with the two species, phragmites (also known as the common reed) and mugwort. Charles Passy, WSJ, 20 Apr. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb 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 Kristen Pumphrey and Thomas Neuberger’s home fragrance company offers vegan soy candles, reed diffusers, incense and room sprays. Los Angeles Times, 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, 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, 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, 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, 20 Aug. 2020

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

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

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Last Updated

20 Sep 2021

Cite this Entry

“Reed.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Sep. 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

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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