From Middle English beken, from Old English bēacn (“sign, signal”), from Proto-West Germanic *baukn, 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)
- A signal fire to notify of the approach of an enemy, or to give any notice, commonly of warning.
1713, John Gay, The Rural Sports:
No flaming beacons cast their blaze afar.
- (nautical) A signal or conspicuous mark erected on an eminence near the shore, or moored in shoal water, as a guide to mariners.
- A post or buoy placed over a shoal or bank to warn vessels of danger; also a signal mark on land. (FM 55-501)
- A high hill or other easily distinguishable object near the shore which can serve as guidance for seafarers.
- (figurative) That which gives notice of danger, or keeps people on the correct path.
c. 1602, William Shakespeare, “The Tragedie of Troylus and Cressida”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies […] (First Folio), London: […] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, →OCLC, [Act II, scene ii]:
Modest doubt is called / The beacon of the wise.
- An electronic device that broadcasts a signal to nearby portable devices, enabling smartphones etc. to perform actions when in physical proximity to the beacon.
- (Internet) Short for web beacon.
- Arabic: فَنَار m (fanār)
- Bulgarian: сигнален огън m (signalen ogǎn)
- Catalan: balisa (ca) f
- Chinese: 烽火 (zh) (fēng huǒ), 狼烟 (zh) (láng yān)
- Dutch: baken (nl) n, bakenvuur n
- Finnish: merkkituli (fi)
- French: balise (fr) f
- Galician: facho (gl) m, brandariz m
- German: Leuchtfeuer (de) n
- Ancient: φρυκτός m (phruktós), πυρσός m (pursós)
- Hebrew: מַשּׂוּאָה (he) f (masu'á)
- Hungarian: jelzőtűz (hu), jelzőfény (hu), irányfény, jelfény
- Japanese: かがり火 (かがりび, kagaribi)
- Macedonian: си́гнален о́ган m (sígnalen ógan)
- Maori: ramaroa
- Portuguese: almenara (pt) f
- Russian: сигна́льный ого́нь m (signálʹnyj ogónʹ)
- Cyrillic: сигнална ва̏тра f
- Roman: signalna vȁtra f
- Spanish: baliza (es) f, almenara (es) f
- Swedish: vårdkase (sv) c, böte (sv) ? (used in Finland and in eastern Sweden)
- Turkish: fener (tr)
- Ukrainian: сигна́льний вого́нь m (syhnálʹnyj vohónʹ)
signaling or guiding mark erected as guide to mariners
- Arabic: مَنَار m (manār)
- Catalan: balisa (ca) f
- Chinese: 燈塔／灯塔 (zh) (dēng tǎ)
- Dutch: baken (nl) n
- Finnish: merimerkki (fi), viitta (fi), loisto (fi)
- French: phare (fr) m
- Galician: balisma f, mallón m
- German: Bake (de) f
- Hungarian: jelzőállomás, világítótorony (hu), irányjeladó, jelzőberendezés (hu)
- Italian: faro (it) m, radiofaro (it) m
- Korean: 등댓불 (deungdaetbul) (of a lighthouse)
- Polish: bakan (pl) m, baken (pl) m
- Portuguese: farol (pt) m
- Russian: мая́к (ru) m (maják) (stationary), ба́кен (ru) m (báken) (floating)
- Spanish: almenara (es) f
- Swedish: sjömärke (sv) n
- Ukrainian: мая́к m (maják), ба́кен (uk) m (báken)
beacon (third-person singular simple present beacons, present participle beaconing, simple past and past participle beaconed)
- (intransitive) To act as a beacon.
- (transitive) To give light to, as a beacon; to light up; to illumine.
1801, Thomas Campbell, Lochiel's Warning:
That beacons the darkness of heaven.
- (transitive) To furnish with a beacon or beacons.