What does beam mean?

Definitions for beam

This dictionary definitions page includes all the possible meanings, example usage and translations of the word beam.

Princeton's WordNet

  1. radio beam, beamnoun

    a signal transmitted along a narrow path; guides airplane pilots in darkness or bad weather

  2. beamnoun

    long thick piece of wood or metal or concrete, etc., used in construction

  3. beam, ray, electron beamnoun

    a group of nearly parallel lines of electromagnetic radiation

  4. beam, beam of light, light beam, ray, ray of light, shaft, shaft of light, irradiationnoun

    a column of light (as from a beacon)

  5. beamnoun

    (nautical) breadth amidships

  6. beamnoun

    the broad side of a ship

    "they sighted land on the port beam"

  7. balance beam, beamverb

    a gymnastic apparatus used by women gymnasts

  8. beamverb

    smile radiantly; express joy through one's facial expression

  9. shine, beamverb

    emit light; be bright, as of the sun or a light

    "The sun shone bright that day"; "The fire beamed on their faces"

  10. beamverb

    express with a beaming face or smile

    "he beamed his approval"

  11. air, send, broadcast, beam, transmitverb

    broadcast over the airwaves, as in radio or television

    "We cannot air this X-rated song"

  12. glow, beam, radiate, shineverb

    have a complexion with a strong bright color, such as red or pink

    "Her face glowed when she came out of the sauna"

  13. glow, beam, radiate, shineverb

    experience a feeling of well-being or happiness, as from good health or an intense emotion

    "She was beaming with joy"; "Her face radiated with happiness"

Samuel Johnson's Dictionary

  1. Bam, Beam

    being initials in the name of any place, usually imply it to have been woody; from the Saxon beam, which we use in the same sense to this day. Edmund Gibson Camden.

  2. BEAMnoun

    Etymology: beam , Sax. a tree; sunnebeam, a ray of the sun.

    A beam is the largest piece of wood in a building, which always lies cross the building or the walls, serving to support the principal rafters of the roof, and into which the feet of the principal rafters are framed. No building has less than two beams, one at each head. Into these, the girders of the garret floor are also framed; and if the building be of timber, the teazel-tenons of the posts are framed. The proportions of beams in or near London, are fixed by act of parliament. A beam fifteen feet long, must be seven inches on each side its square, and five on the other; if it be sixteen feet long, one side must be eight inches, the other six; and so proportionable to their lengths. Builder’s Dict.

    The building of living creatures is like the building of a timber house; the walls and other parts have columns and beams, but the roof is tile, or lead, or stone. Francis Bacon, N. Hist.

    He heav’d, with more than human force, to move
    A weighty stone, the labour of a team,
    And rais’d from thence he reach’d the neighb’ring beam. Dryd.

    But Lycus, swifter,
    Springs to the walls and leaves his foes behind,
    And snatches at the beam he first can find. John Dryden, Æneid.

    Poise the cause in justice’ equal scales,
    Whose beam stands sure, whose rightful cause prevails. William Shakespeare, Henry VI. p. ii.

    If the length of the sides in the balance, and the weights at the ends be both equal, the beam will be in a horizontal situation: but if either the weights alone be equal, or the distances alone, the beam will accordingly decline. John Wilkins, Mathem. Mag.

    And taught the woods to echo to the stream
    His dreadful challenge, and his clashing beam. John Denham.

    Juturna heard, and seiz’d with mortal fear,
    Forc’d from the beam her brother’s charioteer. Dryden.

    The staff of his spear was like a weaver’s beam. 1 Chr. xi. 23.

    Let them present me death upon the wheel,
    Or pile ten hills on the Tarpeian rock,
    That the precipitation might downstretch
    Below the beam of sight. William Shakespeare, Coriolanus.

    Pleasing, yet cold, like Cynthia’s silver beam. Dryden.

    As heav’n’s blest beam turns vinegar to sour. Alexander Pope.

  3. To Beamverb

    To emit rays or beams.

    Etymology: from the noun.

    Each emanation of his fires
    That beams on earth, each virtue he inspires. Alexander Pope.

Webster Dictionary

  1. Beamnoun

    any large piece of timber or iron long in proportion to its thickness, and prepared for use

  2. Beamnoun

    one of the principal horizontal timbers of a building or ship

  3. Beamnoun

    the width of a vessel; as, one vessel is said to have more beam than another

  4. Beamnoun

    the bar of a balance, from the ends of which the scales are suspended

  5. Beamnoun

    the principal stem or horn of a stag or other deer, which bears the antlers, or branches

  6. Beamnoun

    the pole of a carriage

  7. Beamnoun

    a cylinder of wood, making part of a loom, on which weavers wind the warp before weaving; also, the cylinder on which the cloth is rolled, as it is woven; one being called the fore beam, the other the back beam

  8. Beamnoun

    the straight part or shank of an anchor

  9. Beamnoun

    the main part of a plow, to which the handles and colter are secured, and to the end of which are attached the oxen or horses that draw it

  10. Beamnoun

    a heavy iron lever having an oscillating motion on a central axis, one end of which is connected with the piston rod from which it receives motion, and the other with the crank of the wheel shaft; -- called also working beam or walking beam

  11. Beamnoun

    a ray or collection of parallel rays emitted from the sun or other luminous body; as, a beam of light, or of heat

  12. Beamnoun

    fig.: A ray; a gleam; as, a beam of comfort

  13. Beamnoun

    one of the long feathers in the wing of a hawk; -- called also beam feather

  14. Beamverb

    to send forth; to emit; -- followed ordinarily by forth; as, to beam forth light

  15. Beamverb

    to emit beams of light


  1. Beam

    The beam of a ship is its width at the widest point as measured at the ship's nominal waterline. Generally speaking, the wider the beam of a ship, the more initial stability it has, at expense of reserve stability in the event of a capsize, where more energy is required to right the vessel from its inverted position. Typical length-to-beam ratios for small sailboats are from 2:1 to 5:1. Large ships have widely varying beam ratios, some as large as 20:1. Rowing shells designed for flatwater racing may have length to beam ratios as high as 30:1, while a coracle has a ratio of almost 1:1 - it is nearly circular. The beam of many monohull yachts can be calculated using the following formula: LOA is Length Overall. All units are in feet. Some examples - For a standard 27' yacht: the cube root of 27 is 3, 3 squared is 9 plus 1 = 10. The beam of many 27' monohulls is 10'. - For a Volvo Open 70 yacht: 70.5 to the power of 2/3 = 17 plus 1 = 18. The beam is often around 18'. - For a 741' long ship: the cube root is 9, and 9 squared is 81, plus 1. The beam will usually be around 82' e.g. Seawaymax.

Chambers 20th Century Dictionary

  1. Beam

    bēm, n. a large and straight piece of timber or iron forming one of the main supports against lateral pressure of a building, ship, &c.: (fig.) from the figure of the mote and the beam—Matt. vii. 3: any of the transverse pieces of framing extending across a ship's hull, the greatest width of a ship or boat: the part of a balance from which the scales hang: the pole of a carriage: a cylinder of wood in a loom: a ray of light.—v.t. to send forth light: to shine.—n. Beam′-en′gine, a steam-engine which has a beam connecting the piston-rod with the crank of the wheel-shaft, as distinguished from one that has its piston-rod directly attached to the crank.—adv. Beam′ily.—n. Beam′iness.—adjs. Beam′less, without beams: emitting no rays of light; Beam′y, shining.—A beam sea, one rolling against the ship's side.—Before the beam, the bearing of any object when seen more in advance than on the beam; Abaft the beam, the reverse.—Lee or Weather beam, the side away from or towards the wind.—On her beam ends, a phrase applied to the position of a ship when so much inclined to one side that the beams become nearly vertical.—On the starboard beam, applied to any distant point out at sea, at right angles to the keel, and on the starboard or right-hand (as viewed from the stern) side of the ship; On the port beam similarly applies to the left hand. [A.S. béam, a tree, stock of a tree, a ray of light; Ger. baum, a tree; Gr. phyma, a growth—phy-ein, to grow.]

The Nuttall Encyclopedia

  1. Beam

    an ancient prov. of France, fell to the crown with the accession of Henry IV. in 1589; formed a great part of the dep. of Basses-Pyrénées, capital Pau.

The New Hacker's Dictionary

  1. beam

    [from Star Trek Classic's “Beam me up, Scotty!”] 1. To transfer softcopy of a file electronically; most often in combining forms such as beam me a copy or beam that over to his site. 2. Palm Pilot users very commonly use this term for the act of exchanging bits via the infrared links on their machines (this term seems to have originated with the ill-fated Newton Message Pad). Compare blast, snarf, BLT.

Dictionary of Nautical Terms

  1. beam

    A long double stratum of murky clouds generally observed over the surface of the Mediterranean previous to a violent storm or an earthquake. The French call it trave.

  2. beam

    (See ABEAM.)--Before the beam is an arc of the horizon, comprehended between a line that crosses the ship's length at right angles and some object at a distance before it; or between the line of the beam and that point of the compass which she stems. On the weather or lee beam is in a direction to windward or leeward at right angles with the keel.

Editors Contribution

  1. beam

    A stream of color and light.

    The beam of light illuminated the colors within the light.

    Submitted by MaryC on January 4, 2020  

  2. beam

    To emit light.

    Her face and eyes beamed with joy at her partner's proposal.

    Submitted by MaryC on January 4, 2020  

  3. beam

    To express joy through our face, eyes or expression.

    Her husband beamed at her daily and she responded with the same.

    Submitted by MaryC on January 4, 2020  

Suggested Resources

  1. BEAM

    What does BEAM stand for? -- Explore the various meanings for the BEAM acronym on the Abbreviations.com website.

Surnames Frequency by Census Records

  1. BEAM

    According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Beam is ranked #2584 in terms of the most common surnames in America.

    The Beam surname appeared 13,972 times in the 2010 census and if you were to sample 100,000 people in the United States, approximately 5 would have the surname Beam.

    92.6% or 12,946 total occurrences were White.
    3% or 428 total occurrences were Black.
    1.9% or 272 total occurrences were of Hispanic origin.
    1.4% or 205 total occurrences were of two or more races.
    0.4% or 64 total occurrences were American Indian or Alaskan Native.
    0.4% or 56 total occurrences were Asian.

British National Corpus

  1. Nouns Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'beam' in Nouns Frequency: #2082

How to pronounce beam?

How to say beam in sign language?


  1. Chaldean Numerology

    The numerical value of beam in Chaldean Numerology is: 3

  2. Pythagorean Numerology

    The numerical value of beam in Pythagorean Numerology is: 3

Examples of beam in a Sentence

  1. Seneca:

    To see a man fearless in dangers, untainted with lusts, happy in adversity, composed in a tumult, and laughing at all those things which are generally either coveted or feared; all men must acknowledge that this can be from nothing else but a beam of divinity that influences a mortal body.

  2. Simone Biles:

    I'm pretty pleased because that's how I train beam and it finally felt good to go out there and hit a beam routine... because I feel like every time... I just bomb it, overall, I still feel like I could do better. My goal going into tonight was to not be great, just to do well. I feel like I accomplished that and made it into finals. Yay!

  3. Andrew Deutsch:

    In The Lord of the Rings, the bad guy is represented by a giant eye—The Eye of Sauron—and the eye has a beam that sweeps across the land and the characters have to get down to avoid being seen by it.

  4. Keoki Jackson:

    Fiber-optics lasers are revolutionizing direct energy systems, we are investing in every component of the system – from the optics and beam control to the laser itself – to drive size, weight, and power efficiencies.

  5. Martin Fischer:

    We use a black box, a laser, and a camera, the laser beam is expanded vertically to form a thin sheet of light, which we shine through slits on the left and right of the box.

Popularity rank by frequency of use


Translations for beam

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"beam." Definitions.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2023. Web. 2 Jun 2023. <https://www.definitions.net/definition/beam>.

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    used of men; markedly masculine in appearance or manner
    • A. equivalent
    • B. butch
    • C. omnifarious
    • D. ectomorphic

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