Definition of bead in English:

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Pronunciation: /biːd/


1A small piece of glass, stone, or similar material that is threaded with others to make a necklace or rosary or sewn on to fabric: long strings of beads rosary beads she fastened the beads round my neck [as modifier]: a bead bracelet
More example sentences
  • 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.
  • Local craft production included the manufacture of glass and stone beads, and extensive tin, bronze, and gold working.
ball, pellet, pill, globule, spheroid, spherule, sphere, oval, ovoid, orb, round, pearl;
(beads) necklace, string of beads;
Roman Catholic Church  rosary, chaplet
2A 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.
droplet, drop, blob, bubble, dot, dewdrop, teardrop
informal glob
3A small knob forming the foresight of a gun.
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.
4The reinforced inner edge of a pneumatic tyre that grips the rim of the wheel.
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.
5An ornamental plaster moulding resembling a string of beads or having a semicircular cross section.
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]
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: seashells beaded into belts
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.



draw (or get) a bead on

chiefly North American Take aim at with a gun: I drew a bead on the nape of his neck
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
1.1Fully 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 one's beads

Use the beads of a rosary in counting prayers.
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.


Old English gebed 'prayer', of Germanic origin; related to Dutch bede and German Gebet, also to bid2. Current senses derive from the use of a rosary, each bead representing a prayer.

  • The original meaning of bead was ‘prayer’. Current meanings of bead come from the use of a rosary, each bead representing a prayer. Bid (Old English) first found in the sense ‘ask, beg’ is related.

Words that rhyme with bead

accede, Bede, bleed, breed, cede, concede, creed, deed, Eid, exceed, feed, Gide, God speed, greed, he'd, heed, impede, interbreed, intercede, Jamshid, knead, lead, mead, Mede, meed, misdeed, mislead, misread, need, plead, proceed, read, rede, reed, Reid, retrocede, screed, secede, seed, she'd, speed, stampede, steed, succeed, supersede, Swede, tweed, weak-kneed, we'd, weed

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