a. A small, often round piece of material, such as glass, plastic, or wood, that is pierced for stringing or threading.
b. beads A necklace made of such pieces.
c. beads Roman Catholic Church A rosary.
d. often beads Obsolete A prayer.
2. A small, round object, especially:
a. A drop of moisture: beads of sweat.
b. A bubble of gas in a liquid.
c. A small metal knob on the muzzle of a firearm, such as a rifle, used for sighting.
3. A strip of material, usually wood, with one molded edge placed flush against the inner part of a door or window frame.
a. A decoration consisting of a usually continuous series of small spherical shapes, as on a convex molding.
5. A projecting rim or lip, as on a pneumatic tire.
6. A line of continuously applied ductile material, such as solder or caulking compound.
7. Chemistry A globule of fused borax or other flux used in a bead test.
tr. & intr.v. bead·ed, bead·ing, beadsIdiom:
To furnish with or collect into beads.
draw/get a bead on
To take careful aim at.
[Middle English bede, rosary bead, prayer, from Old English bed, bedu, gebed, prayer; see gwhedh- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
The American Heritage Dictionary Blog
Check out our blog, updated regularly, for new words and revised definitions, interesting images from the 5th edition, discussions of usage, and more.