Definition of reed in English:

reed

Line breaks: reed
Pronunciation: /riːd
 
/

noun

1A tall, slender-leaved plant of the grass family, which grows in water or on marshy ground.
  • Genera Phragmites and Arundo, family Gramineae: several species, in particular the common (or Norfolk) reed (P. australis), which is used for thatching
More example sentences
  • Aquatic plants come in many forms, from relatively simple multi-cellular algae to reeds and water lilies.
  • Water lilies, reeds and sometimes, on hot days and nights, mists articulate the change between the heavily trafficked street and the park.
  • Look again for flooded areas, especially where long grasses and reeds lie over the water's surface.
1.1Used in names of plants similar to the reed and growing in wet habitats, e.g. bur-reed.
1.2A tall straight stalk of a reed plant, used especially as a material in making thatch or household items: a harvest of thatching reeds [mass noun:, as modifier]: a reed curtain
More example sentences
  • In the north, walls are made of millet stalks or reeds, and roofs are typically corrugated tin.
  • Here we've got some reeds as well, which are mainly used for thatching the roofs.
  • From the riverbanks reeds are harvested for hut building and thatching.
1.3 [mass noun] British Straw used for thatching.
More example sentences
  • The facade is of Corrib stone and the roof is thatched with Turkish reed to a minimum depth of 14 inches - the thatching has a lifetime of more than 15 years.
  • People making a living off the fens catching eels and harvesting marsh reed for thatching were a tad upset and started a guerilla war against the engineers who were building the drains.
  • Nigerians build simple rectangular or cylindrical houses of reed, mud brick, or cinder block.
1.4 literary A rustic musical pipe made from a reed or from straw: as if thy waves had only heard the shepherd’s reed
More example sentences
  • A single, consistent bar on a hollow reed, just musical enough to be considered a note.
2A thing or person resembling or likened to a reed, in particular:
More example sentences
  • You are weak reeds, cast aside in a search for something useful.
  • On that slim reed of hope that an agreement might still be reached, the talks adjourned at 6 a.m.
  • A lot of things I don't agree with, but I'm a grass reed, I go with it.
2.1A weak or impressionable person: the jurors were mere reeds in the wind
More example sentences
  • He obviously cannot control his own people and became a weak reed in the process.
2.2 literary An arrow: a bright reed of energy pierced the starship bridge
2.3 (reeds) A set of semi-cylindrical adjacent mouldings like reeds laid together.
More example sentences
  • One easily accounts for the 3 small sinkings on the Doric capital: they represented the strings that tied the original bundled reeds together to make them strong to bear great weight.
  • In order to give the stucco a hold on a wooden wall or ceiling reeds are nailed to the surface beforehand, providing a ‘key’.
3A piece of thin cane or metal, sometimes doubled, which vibrates in a current of air to produce the sound of various musical instruments, as in the mouthpiece of a clarinet or oboe or at the base of some organ pipes: [as modifier]: a reed instrument
More example sentences
  • She had just attached the reed to the mouth piece when she realized, ‘Oh my gosh!’
  • Wind instruments are tuned by adjustment to the length of tubing, using the tuning-slide on a brass instrument, the staple of the reed on an oboe, or the movable top joint of a flute, etc.
  • She hoped no one noticed her bright cheeks as she attached the reed to her mouth piece.
3.1A wind instrument played with a reed.
More example sentences
  • The Beast isn't even an electronic record as such, as Michel records himself on guitar, drums, melodica, horns, reeds, keys, the list goes on.
  • Al is a rare multi-instrumentalist, able to alternate on reeds and trumpet with equal artistry over an evening.
  • Youssou N'Dour worked with Fathy Salama, who arranged and conducted his orchestral group of violins, reeds, flutes, and percussion.
3.2An organ stop with reed pipes.
4An electrical contact used in a magnetically operated switch or relay: the permanent magnet closes the reeds and contacts together [as modifier]: a reed relay
More example sentences
  • By bouncing, the reed breaks an electrical circuit.
5A weaver’s comb-like implement (originally made from reed or cane) for separating the threads of the warp and correctly positioning the weft.

Origin

Old English hrēod, of West Germanic origin; related to Dutch riet and German Ried.

Phrases

a broken reed

A weak or ineffectual person: the superintendent of this building appears to be a broken reed
More example sentences
  • It would only take one more attack on the US homeland for the President to become a scapegoat and his Office of Homeland Security a broken reed.
  • Because of all the changes it is obviously difficult to test the validity of these claims, but some of Wheelock's main supports are broken reeds to lean on.
  • By contrast, the Irish army that the king mobilized to support his cause turned out to be a broken reed.

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