Definition of bead in English:


Syllabification: bead
Pronunciation: /bēd


1A small piece of glass, stone, or similar material, typically rounded and perforated for threading with others as a necklace or rosary or for sewing onto fabric.
More example sentences
  • So she rounded up glass beads, semi-precious stones, and sterling silver wire and created her collection of one-of-a-kind rings.
  • The excavators found Roman glass beads from a necklace and one gaming counter.
  • He deftly picks up different objects such as glass stones, beads and white metal piping and threads it aesthetically on a black cotton thread to make a necklace.
ball, pellet, pill, globule, sphere, spheroid, oval, ovoid, orb, round; (beads)necklace, rosary, chaplet
1.1 (beads) A necklace made of a string of beads.
More example sentences
  • There are shops and stalls where you can buy rosaries, beads, postcards, books and fluffy toys.
  • Bronze brooches and pins, dress fasteners, silver rings, knives, beads of amber and glass and even some objects that seem to be made of ivory appear as the shallow graves were excavated.
  • Wearing scarlet jackets, gold and silver beads and bracelets and flowers in their hair, the Laotian women are graceful and attractive and given to music, dancing and proverbs.
1.2 (beads) A rosary.
More example sentences
  • Parents are reminded that prayer books, Rosary beads, badges and plaques are for sale in Raheen church shop.
  • She is wearing rosary beads around her neck, an apron with the picture of the Sacred Heart and a T-shirt with President Mugabe's photo.
  • Isabeau was crouched on the steps before the altar, clutching rosary beads to her chest, and shards of stained glass covered the pews beneath one of the high windows.
2Something resembling a bead or a string of beads, in particular.
More example sentences
  • These knobby swellings on a root look like beads on a string.
  • That is, the relationships don't look like successive beads on a string.
  • Earthlings' way of seeing time as moment-to-moment like beads on a string, is an illusion.
2.1A drop of a liquid on a surface: beads of sweat
More example sentences
  • Sometimes, I see beads of glistening sweat dropping off her forehead.
  • Their limbs ached from walking so far and beads of sweat dropped onto the ground from the scorching sun.
  • Seconds later, Mel was back with a towel to wipe salty beads of liquid away from Sam's face.
2.2A long, narrow strip of caulking compound, adhesive or similar material applied to a surface.
More example sentences
  • Meanwhile the ball, which is the same size as a conventional cricket ball, contains beads to help the players hear where it is going and is made of hard plastic rather than cork and leather.
  • Older methods such as poured-in insulations like polystyrene beads and vermiculite are also sometimes used.
  • For example, a polystyrene bead can be given a digital spectral code by impregnating it with some combination of blue, green and red quantum dots.
2.3A small knob forming the front sight of a gun.
More example sentences
  • He was in the bathroom, he said, when he noticed the red bead of an automatic weapon's sighting trained on him.
  • Rather, they decided on a single fixed-leaf rear sight with a gold bead front sight.
  • It was off to Hamilton Bowen to be bead blasted and re-blued.
2.4The reinforced inner edge of a pneumatic tire that grips the rim of the wheel.
More example sentences
  • This is the distance between the vertical edges of the rim where the tire bead seats.
  • Wetting the beads of the tire and/or the mounting surfaces in the rim is important because it makes a better seal against the rim and slides easily onto the bead seat.
  • This refers to diameter of the metal ring, on which the bead of the tire rests.
2.5An ornamental molding resembling a string of beads or of a semicircular cross-section.
More example sentences
  • Trim Tex shadow bead connects drywall with interior door and window jambs for a clean look, Reader says.
  • The plane is a Grecian ovolo with bead and is designed to cut a one-inch wide profile in half-inch thick stock.
  • If you can't pry out the nails without further damaging the wall, use the snips to cut the bead from around the nailheads.


[with object] Back to top  
1 (often as adjective beaded) Decorate or cover with beads: a beaded evening bag
More example sentences
  • They also come braided, beaded, decorated, and high-heeled.
  • Taren said, presenting her with a sword that remained sheathed in an elven leather scabbard, beaded and decorated with the majestic colors of the earth.
  • Mountain-dwelling Hani women in patchwork costumes sell beaded headdresses and bags.
1.1String (beads) together.
More example sentences
  • These pearls are beaded in the form of chains, studs or bangles.
  • After all my bragging about beads, Jim sent me a nice e-mail and asked me if I'd be willing to take a commission to bead him a bracelet.
  • An African Arts Week at Sunnymede Infants School, in Mons Avenue, saw children learn how to bead necklaces ready to dance to traditional music.
2Cover (a surface) with drops of moisture: his face was beaded with perspiration
More example sentences
  • She came out of the bathroom with the pictures of the training facility, then used her mini blow dryer to dry the water which beaded the surface of the prints.
  • Flowers with their petals recently beaded with rain drops have a unique appeal, the very epitome of freshness.
  • The answer is in the minute details of the leaf structure at the surface which beads water and directs it off the leaf, containing a load of dust and other particles.


Old English gebed 'prayer', of Germanic origin; related to Dutch bede and German Gebet, also to bid1. Current senses derive from the use of a rosary, each bead representing a prayer.


draw (or get) a bead on

chiefly North American Take aim at.
More example sentences
  • ‘He drew a bead on me and I drew a bead on him and dropped him,’ Capt. Hornbuckle says. ‘He was not going to stop me from going home.’
  • Turner got a bead on yet another alien ship and loosed a missile from the left pylon.
  • Other times, on other nights that Goodrum himself describes, he'd relive those bleak seconds aboard the USS Missouri when he was in the Navy during the War and a missile drew a bead on his ship.
aim at, fix on, focus on, zero in on, sight
Fully understand or make sense of: it’s hard to draw a bead on the stock market these days
More example sentences
  • The Snowbirds obliged by flying in numbers sufficient for my autofocus to get a bead on them.
  • The purpose of the dance was to prevent snipers from getting a bead on us.
  • Plenty of good spots for a rebel sniper or two with AA artillery to get a bead on an air limo cruising along.

tell (or say) one's beads

Use the beads of a rosary in counting prayers.
More example sentences
  • Franz Werfel said of an old woman that she told her beads as though she were knitting garments for the poor.
  • She had remained steadfast in her faith and had continued to tell her beads on her fingers.
  • Josephine kept a long list of intentions and told her beads with the same dispatch with which she cleaned house.

Definition of bead in:

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove adverts and access premium resources

Word of the day humoresque
Pronunciation: ˌhjuːməˈrɛsk
a short, lively piece of music