Etymology 1Edit

a- (in the direction of) +‎ beam (keel)


abeam (comparative more abeam, superlative most abeam)

  1. (nautical, aircraft) On the beam; at a right angle to the centerline or keel of a vessel [1] or aircraft; being at a bearing approximately 090 Degrees or 270 Degrees relative[2]. [Mid 19th century.][3]
    • 1883, Robert Louis Stevenson, Treasure Island, London: Cassell, Chapter 10, p. 83,[1]
      We were heading S.S.W., and had a steady breeze abeam and a quiet sea.
    • 1968, Ursula K. LeGuin, A Wizard of Earthsea, Boston: Houghton Mifflin 2012, Chapter 2, p. 36,[2]
      [] waves striking the ship abeam pushed her always south of their new course, and rolled her, and filled her with water so that bailing must be ceaseless []
  2. (nautical, aircraft) Alongside or abreast; opposite the center of the side of the ship or aircraft. [Mid 19th century.][3]


abeam (comparative more abeam, superlative most abeam)

  1. (nautical, aircraft) Alongside or abreast; opposite the center of the side of the ship or aircraft. [Mid 19th century.][3]
    • 1904, Joseph Conrad, Nostromo, New York: Harper, Chapter 8, p. 311,[3]
      The sound shifted its place markedly, but without coming nearer. It even grew a little more distant right abeam of the lighter, and then ceased again.
    • 2005, William Thomas Generous, Sweet Pea at War: A History of USS Portland[4], →ISBN, page 178:
      The attack on the abeam ship, Louisville, killed Commander Cruiser Division Four []
    The island was directly abeam of us.



  1. (nautical) Alongside. [Mid 19th century.][3]
    She came abeam the crippled ship.

Etymology 2Edit

a- +‎ beam (to emit beams of light)


abeam (not comparable)

  1. Beaming, shining (especially with reference to a person's face or eyes).
    • 1876, William Davidson, Sermons on the Parables, Cincinnati: Western Tract Society, Sermon 1, p. 41,[5]
      [] the hearts of the saints [will] be all attention and their faces all abeam for the consolation;
    • 1906, Miriam Michelson, A Yellow Journalist, New York: D. Appleton, Chapter 9, p. 199,[6]
      [] the waiters fly about abeam with good will and on excellent terms with those they serve []
    • 1970, Doreen Tovey, The New Boy, Chicago: Summersdale, 2006, Chapter 6, p. 55,[7]
      [] since he refused to be intimidated, stage two of their introduction consisted of Sheba sitting round in attitudes of beleaguered desperation while Seeley, his face abeam with adulation, sat determinedly beside her.
    • 2011, Christopher Buckley, “Christopher Hitchens” in But Enough About You: Essays, New York: Simon & Schuster, 2014, p. 227,[8]
      When we met for another lunch [] he was all abeam with pride as he handed me a newly minted paperback reissue of Wodehouse []


  1. ^ FM 55-501 Marine Crewman’s Handbook
  2. ^ JP 1-02 Department of Defense Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Lesley Brown, editor-in-chief; William R. Trumble and Angus Stevenson, editors (2002), “abeam”, in The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary on Historical Principles, 5th edition, Oxford; New York, N.Y.: Oxford University Press, →ISBN, page 3.





  1. first-person singular present active subjunctive of abeō