Definition of bean in English:

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Pronunciation: /bēn/


1An edible seed, typically kidney-shaped, growing in long pods on certain leguminous plants.
Example sentences
  • We went to Notcutts and bought some compost since my bean seedlings are growing into triffids and need planting out ASAP.
  • About half the nation's $629 million dry edible bean crop is grown in those two states and Michigan.
  • There are also shell beans (lima, navy, kidney, mung, garbanzo and soya) that you can grow just for the bean seeds inside the pod.
1.1The hard seed of coffee, cocoa, and certain other plants.
Example sentences
  • Some of the world's largest industries are built around beans: coffee and cocoa, for example.
  • Cocoa processing (crushing the beans to form cocoa powder and butter) is far more profitable than cocoa growing.
  • Cocoa beans contain copper and most of the mineral remains preserved after the beans are processed into cocoa or chocolate.
2A leguminous plant that bears beans in pods.
  • Phaseolus and other genera, family Leguminosae: numerous species, including the scarlet runner (P. coccineus), kidney bean (P. vulgaris), and broad bean (Vicia faba).
Example sentences
  • One warning: do not plant near beans, caraway, tomatoes, coriander or wormwood-they do not work well together.
  • Hyacinth bean, a vigorous annual vine, can quickly cover an arbor during one season.
  • Ricin, one of the deadliest naturally occurring poisons, is derived from castor plant beans, which are grown worldwide to produce castor oil.
3 [with negative] (also beans) informal A very small amount or nothing at all of something (used emphatically): there is not a single bean of substance in the report I didn’t know beans about being a step-parent
More example sentences
  • Having the world's best beans doesn't mean beans unless they are roasted correctly.
  • When it comes to small businesses, the net profit doesn't mean beans because the seller is doing everything possible to keep this number low to avoid taxes.
  • There really isn't much to recycle in the ordinary light bulb, even the combination of glass and metal doesn't amount to beans.
4 informal A person’s head, typically when regarded as a source of common sense.
Example sentences
  • You gotta use your bean to get this right so, as they say in the military, listen up.
  • Every time you make a decision, take any action on your own responsibility, give and order or use your bean, you are preparing yourself for greater opportunities.
  • Why doesn't Foley use his bean and draft legislation prohibiting tornadoes from entering or coming near to trailer parks?


[with object] informal, chiefly North American
Hit (someone) on the head: Boone was nearly beaned by that wild pitch
More example sentences
  • That felt better until a bunch of 12-year-olds started beaning me in the head with their tubes.
  • During the fifth inning though she was beaned by the ball while the opponent was at bat.
  • They're still waiting, in part because his 1998 season was ruined when he was beaned at midseason, and then he struggled with his confidence.



full of beans

informal Lively; in high spirits.
Example sentences
  • Chirpy, smiley, full of beans - these are just some of the words which do not describe first-time quarter-finalist David Gray.
  • When I last spoke to her yesterday she was full of beans, very cheerful and chirpy, so I deduce from that that all was going well.
  • They were lovely kids: bright, intelligent and full of beans.

a hill (or row) of beans

[with negative] Anything of any importance or value: three little people don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world
More example sentences
  • Ms. Hill, you see, favors people who are ‘diverse,’ which apparently means any and all who agree with her, and she doesn't care a hill of beans for anyone else, of whatever hue or gender.
  • When Bogart said to Bergman in Casablanca: ‘The problems of two people don't amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world,’ he could not have been more incorrect.
  • The problems of three or three hundred or three hundred thousand little bloggers don't amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world.

old bean

British informal, dated A friendly form of address, usually to a man: great to see you, old bean!
More example sentences
  • Nice to see you thinking outside the box, old bean.
  • But when you remember you're hundreds of feet up in a great chunk of Victorian genius, you doff your hat and remember your place, old bean.
  • I always think of him saying something like ‘you simply have to, old bean, you simply have to!’


Old English bēan, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch boon and German Bohne.

  • Beans have long been a basic foodstuff. To spill the beans, ‘to reveal a secret’ is an American expression from the early 20th century. Full of beans, ‘lively, in high spirits’, first recorded in the mid 19th century, originally referred to horses. Beans were one of their staple foods and a well-fed horse would be full of energy and vitality. As an insulting term for an accountant, bean-counter is another US term, originating in the 1970s. The rather dated bean meaning ‘the head’ is also originally from the US. It lives on in the close-fitting hat, the beanie [1940].

Words that rhyme with bean

Aberdeen, Amin, aquamarine, baleen, been, beguine, Benin, between, canteen, careen, Claudine, clean, contravene, convene, cuisine, dean, Dene, e'en, eighteen, fascine, fedayeen, fifteen, figurine, foreseen, fourteen, Francine, gean, gene, glean, gombeen, green, Greene, Halloween, intervene, Janine, Jean, Jeannine, Jolene, Kean, keen, Keene, Ladin, langoustine, latrine, lean, limousine, machine, Maclean, magazine, Malines, margarine, marine, Mascarene, Massine, Maxine, mean, Medellín, mesne, mien, Moline, moreen, mujahedin, Nadine, nankeen, Nazarene, Nene, nineteen, nougatine, obscene, palanquin, peen, poteen, preen, quean, Rabin, Racine, ramin, ravine, routine, Sabine, saltine, sardine, sarin, sateen, scene, screen, seen, serene, seventeen, shagreen, shebeen, sheen, sixteen, spleen, spring-clean, squireen, Steen, submarine, supervene, tambourine, tangerine, teen, terrine, thirteen, transmarine, treen, tureen, Tyrrhene, ultramarine, umpteen, velveteen, wean, ween, Wheen, yean

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: bean

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