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From Middle English beken, from Old English bēacen (sign, signal), from Proto-Germanic *baukną (compare West Frisian beaken (buoy), Dutch baken (beacon), Middle Low German bāke (beacon, sign), German Bake (traffic sign), Middle High German bouchen (sign)), perhaps from Proto-Indo-European *bʰeh₂u-, *bʰeh₂- (to shine).



beacon (plural beacons)

  1. A signal fire to notify of the approach of an enemy, or to give any notice, commonly of warning.
    • Gay
      No flaming beacons cast their blaze afar.
  2. (nautical) A signal or conspicuous mark erected on an eminence near the shore, or moored in shoal water, as a guide to mariners.
    1. A post or buoy placed over a shoal or bank to warn vessels of danger; also a signal mark on land. (FM 55-501)
  3. A high hill or other easily distinguishable object near the shore which can serve as guidance for seafarers.
  4. (figuratively) That which gives notice of danger.
    • Shakespeare
      Modest doubt is called / The beacon of the wise.
  5. An electronic device that broadcasts a signal to nearby portable devices, enabling smartphones etc. to perform actions when in physical proximity to the beacon.

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See alsoEdit


beacon (third-person singular simple present beacons, present participle beaconing, simple past and past participle beaconed)

  1. (intransitive) To act as a beacon.
  2. (transitive) To give light to, as a beacon; to light up; to illumine.
    • Campbell
      That beacons the darkness of heaven.
  3. (transitive) To furnish with a beacon or beacons.

Related termsEdit