See also: Beam and BEAM

English

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Etymology

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From Middle English beem, from Old English bēam (tree, cross, gallows, column, pillar, wood, beam, splint, post, stock, rafter, piece of wood), from Proto-West Germanic *baum, from Proto-Germanic *baumaz (tree, beam, balk), from Proto-Indo-European *bʰew- (to grow, swell). Cognate with West Frisian beam (tree), Saterland Frisian Boom (tree), Dutch boom (tree), German Low German Boom (tree), German Baum (tree), Luxembourgish Bam (tree), Albanian bimë (a plant). Doublet of boom.

The original English meaning of beam ("tree") is preserved in some compound words such as quickbeam.

The verb is from Middle English bemen, from Old English bēamian (to shine, to cast forth rays or beams of light), from the noun.

 
Wooden beams at the ceiling of a room

Pronunciation

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  • enPR: bēm, IPA(key): /biːm/
  • Audio (US):(file)
  • Rhymes: -iːm

Noun

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beam (plural beams)

  1. (structural) Any large piece of timber or iron long in proportion to its thickness, and prepared for use.
    • 1611, The Holy Bible, [] (King James Version), London: [] Robert Barker, [], →OCLC, Nehemiah 2:8:
      And a letter vnto Asaph the keeper of the kings forrest, that he may giue me timber to make beames for the gates of the palace which appertained to the house, and for the wall of the Citie, and for the house that I shall enter into: And the king granted me, according to the good hand of my God vpon me.
  2. (structural) One of the principal horizontal structural members, usually of steel, timber, or concrete, of a building.
  3. (nautical) One of the transverse members of a ship's frame on which the decks are laid, and acting as part of the support for keeping the sides of the vessel in shape — supported at the sides by knees in wooden ships and by stringers in steel ones; cf. abeam, beam-ends.
    • 1805 Alexander Tilloch. Account of a terrible Hurricane in the West Indies 1804. Philosophical Magazine. Vol. XXI. P. 14
      Capt. King, from Demarara, was invaded by the gale on the evening of the 6th, in lat. 21° 51', and his vessel was thrown on her beam ends. He was forced to cut away her main-mast. Lost a man, who was washed overboard.
      . . .
      Capt. Mood, on a voyage from Alexandria (Virginia), to St. Mary's (Georgia), was, on the night of the 7th, in the Gulf Stream, to the eastward of Charlston: the wind there was east-north-east, and so hard as to throw his vessel on her beam ends. She lay several hours in this situation. Several of his crew were washed overboard.
    • 1808 Richard Hall Gower. On the Theory and Practice of Seamanship.
      It often happens that by a sudden squall of wind a vessel is thrown over upon her beam ends, without a prospect of recovering her erect while she remains upon the same tack, therefore attempts are made to veer her; but as the rudder lies along the surface of the water it becomes useless, and as the sails are either blown from the yards, or become unmanageable, recourse is had to cutting away the main-mast and mizen-mast, that the ship may veer under the fore-mast:-a most desperate expedient, particularly if the ship is far distant from port!
  4. (nautical) The maximum width of a vessel (note that a vessel with a beam of 15 foot can also be said to be 15 foot abeam).
    This ship has more beam than that one.
    Synonym: breadth
  5. (nautical) The direction across a vessel, perpendicular to fore-and-aft.
    As the vessel passes a landmark, the landmark is said to be abeam. Once the vessel has passed the landmark, it falls abaft the beam, then it gradually falls astern.
  6. (nautical) The straight part or shank of an anchor.
  7. (mechanical) The crossbar of a mechanical balance, from the ends of which the scales are suspended.
  8. (mechanical) In steam engines, a heavy iron lever having an oscillating motion on a central axis, one end of which is connected with the piston rod from which it receives motion, and the other with the crank of the wheel shaft.
    Synonyms: working beam, walking beam
  9. (agricultural) The central bar of a plow, to which the handles and colter are secured, and to the end of which are attached the oxen or horses that draw it.
  10. (physics) A ray or collection of approximately parallel rays emitted from the sun or other luminous body.
    a beam of light
    a beam of energy
    • c. 1596–1598 (date written), W[illiam] Shakespeare, The Excellent History of the Merchant of Venice. [] (First Quarto), [London]: [] J[ames] Roberts [for Thomas Heyes], published 1600, →OCLC, [Act V, scene i]:
      That light we ſee is burning in my hall: / How farre that little candle throws his beames, / So ſhines a good deed in a naughty world.
    • 1829, Edgar Allan Poe, “Tamerlane”, in Al Aaraaf, Tamerlane and Minor Poems:
      What tho’ the moon—the white moon
      Shed all the splendour of her noon,
      Her smile is chilly—and her beam,
      In that time of dreariness, will seem
      (So like you gather in your breath)
      A portrait taken after death.
    • 2011 September 22, Nick Collins, “Speed of light 'broken' by scientists”, in Daily Telegraph[1]:
      A total of 15,000 beams of neutrinos were fired over a period of 3 years from CERN towards Gran Sassoin Italy, 730km (500 miles) away, where they were picked up by giant detectors.
  11. (anatomical, informal) The principal stem of the antler of a deer.
  12. (anatomical, informal) One of the long feathers in the wing of a hawk.
    Synonym: beam feather
  13. (literary) The pole of a carriage or chariot.
    • a 1700, André Dacier, John Dryden, “Life of Alexander”, in Plutarch's Lives, translation of original by Plutarch:
      Soon after this be subdued the Pisidians who made head against him, and conquered the Phrygians, at whose chief city Gordium (which is said to have been the seat of the ancient Midas) he saw the famous chariot fastened with cords made of the bark of the Cornel-Tree, and was informed that the inhabitants had a constant tradition, that the empire of the world was reserved for him who should untie the knot. Most are of opinion, that Alexander finding that he could not untie it, because the ends of it were secretly folded up within it, cut it asunder with his sword, so that several ends appeared. But Aristobulus tells us that he very easily undid it, by only pulling the pin out of the beam which fastened the yoke to it, and afterwards drawing out the yoke itself.
  14. (textiles) A cylinder of wood, making part of a loom, on which weavers wind the warp before weaving and the cylinder on which the cloth is rolled, as it is woven.
  15. (figuratively) A ray; a gleam.
    a beam of hope, or of comfort
  16. (music) A horizontal bar which connects the stems of two or more notes to group them and to indicate metric value.
  17. (railway) An elevated rectangular dirt pile used to cheaply build an elevated portion of a railway.
  18. (gymnastics) Ellipsis of balance beam.
  19. A broad smile.
    • 2023 September 3, Phil McNulty, “Declan Rice: The game-changing midfielder Arsenal need for title challenge”, in BBC Sport[2]:
      He could barely remove the beam from his face when he said: "Arsenal is a massive club and you feel the pressure but I try to put in performances.

Hyponyms

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(structural element):

(textiles):

Derived terms

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Translations

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The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.

See also

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Verb

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beam (third-person singular simple present beams, present participle beaming, simple past and past participle beamed)

  1. (transitive, intransitive) To emit beams of light; to shine; to radiate.
    to beam forth light
    • 2019, Justin Blackburn, The Bisexual Christian Suburban Failure Enlightening Bipolar Blues, page 23:
      Jesus beams golden light from his solar plexus into Eric's root chakra.
  2. (intransitive, figuratively) To smile broadly or especially cheerfully.
    to beam with pride
  3. (transitive) To furnish or supply with beams.
  4. (transitive) To give the appearance of beams to.
  5. (transitive, science fiction) To transmit matter or information via a high-tech wireless mechanism.
    Beam me up, Scotty; there's no intelligent life down here.
    The injured crewmembers were immediately beamed to sickbay.
    • 2010, “Beam Me Up”, in Walking the Midnight Streets, performed by Midnight Magic:
      Beam me up (x4) / Beam me up town / Beam me down (x3) / Beam me back downtown
  6. (transitive, computing) To transmit, especially by direct wireless means such as infrared.
    • 1996, Eric S. Raymond, Guy L. Steele, The New Hacker's Dictionary, page 208:
      To beam a file using the File Transfer Protocol.
    • 2002, Michael Miller, 10 Minute Guide to Pocket PC 2002, page 74:
      To beam a file to another Pocket PC, follow these steps: []
  7. (transitive, currying) To stretch something (for example, an animal hide) on a beam.
  8. (transitive, weaving) To put (something) on a beam.
  9. (transitive, music) To connect (musical notes) with a beam, or thick line, in music notation.

Derived terms

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Translations

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Descendants

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  • German: beamen
  • Dutch: beamen
  • Japanese: ビーム

Anagrams

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German

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Pronunciation

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Verb

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beam

  1. singular imperative of beamen

Middle English

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Noun

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beam

  1. (Northern or Early Middle English) Alternative form of beem

Old English

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Alternative forms

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Etymology

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From Proto-West Germanic *baum.

Pronunciation

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Noun

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bēam m

  1. tree
  2. beam of wood
  3. gallows
  4. (by extension) the Cross
    • Codex Vercillensis
      Wæs sē bēam bōcstafum āwriten.
      The tree was inscribed with letters.

Declension

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Synonyms

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Derived terms

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Descendants

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Romanian

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Pronunciation

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Verb

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beam

  1. first-person singular/plural imperfect indicative of bea

West Frisian

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Etymology

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From Old Frisian bām, from Proto-West Germanic *baum.

Pronunciation

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Noun

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beam c (plural beammen, diminutive beamke)

  1. tree

Derived terms

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Further reading

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  • beam”, in Wurdboek fan de Fryske taal (in Dutch), 2011