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.
beam (plural beams)
- 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.
- One of the principal horizontal structural members, usually of steel, timber, or concrete, of a building; one of the transverse members of a ship's frame on which the decks are laid — supported at the sides by knees in wooden ships and by stringers in steel ones.
- 1614–1615, Homer, “(please specify the book number)”, in Geo[rge] Chapman, transl., Homer’s Odysses. […], London: […] Rich[ard] Field [and William Jaggard], for Nathaniell Butter, published 1615, →OCLC; republished in The Odysseys of Homer, […], volume (please specify the book number), London: John Russell Smith, […], 1857, →OCLC:
- The brasswork here, how rich it is in beams, / And how, besides, it makes the whole house sound.
- 1905, Beatrix Potter, The Tale of Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle:
- Lucie opened the door: and what do you think there was inside the hill?—a nice clean kitchen with a flagged floor and wooden beams—just like any other farm kitchen.
- (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).
- Synonym: breadth
- 1892, Sydney Marow Eardley-Wilmot, The Development of Navies During the Last Half-Century Chapter 7
- Being only 280 ft. long, with a beam of 66 ft, their speed is moderate, and for a long time difficulty was experienced in steering them.
- This ship has more beam than that one.
- (nautical) The direction across a vessel, perpendicular to fore-and-aft.
- The crossbar of a mechanical balance, from the ends of which the scales are suspended.
- 1714, Alexander Pope, “The Rape of the Lock”, in The Works of Mr. Alexander Pope, volume I, London: […] W[illiam] Bowyer, for Bernard Lintot, […], published 1717, →OCLC, canto V:
- The doubtful beam long nods from side to side.
- The principal stem of the antler of a deer.
- (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.
- (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.
- The straight part or shank of an anchor.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- 2011 September 22, Nick Collins, “Speed of light 'broken' by scientists”, in Daily Telegraph:
- 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.
- (figuratively) A ray; a gleam.
- a beam of hope, or of comfort
- 1827, [John Keble], “Third Sunday after Epiphany”, in The Christian Year: Thoughts in Verse for the Sundays and Holydays throughout the Year, volume I, Oxford, Oxfordshire: […] [B]y W. Baxter, for J. Parker; and C[harles] and J[ohn] Rivington, […], →OCLC, page 68:
- Worthless and lost our offerings seem, / Drops in the ocean of his praise; / But Mercy with her genial beam / Is ripening them to pearly blaze, / To sparkle in His crown above, / Who welcomes here a child's as there an angel's love.
- One of the long feathers in the wing of a hawk.
- Synonym: beam feather
- (music) A horizontal bar which connects the stems of two or more notes to group them and to indicate metric value.
- (railway) An elevated rectangular dirt pile used to cheaply build an elevated portion of a railway.
- (gymnastics) Ellipsis of balance beam.
- Airy beam
- balance beam
- beam and scales
- beam compass
- beam engine
- beam reach
- beam sea
- beam splitter
- beam steering
- beam tree
- Bessel beam
- bond beam
- broad across the beam
- broad in the beam
- buffer beam, bufferbeam
- camber beam
- chemical beam epitaxy
- collar beam
- country beam
- dragon beam
- equalising beam
- exposed beam
- fender beam
- fish beam
- fork beam
- Gaussian beam
- hammer beam
- kick the beam
- ladder beam
- laser beam
- molecular beam epitaxy
- needle beam
- off the beam
- on one's beam ends
- particle beam
- pilot beam
- presser beam
- pressor beam
- repulsor beam
- ridge beam
- rocking beam
- rood beam
- sealed beam
- section beam
- shoe beam
- spot beam
- spring beam
- straining beam
- tie beam
- tractor beam
- traffic beam
- The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.
beam (third-person singular simple present beams, present participle beaming, simple past and past participle beamed)
- (transitive, intransitive) To emit beams of light; to shine; to radiate.
- 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.
- to beam forth light
- (intransitive, figuratively) To smile broadly or especially cheerfully.
- to beam with pride
- (transitive) To furnish or supply with beams.
- (transitive) To give the appearance of beams to.
- (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
- (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: […]
- (transitive, currying) To stretch something (for example, an animal hide) on a beam.
- (transitive, weaving) To put (something) on a beam.
- (transitive, music) To connect (musical notes) with a beam, or thick line, in music notation.
- (Northern or Early Middle English) Alternative form of beem
From Proto-West Germanic *baum.
- beam of wood
- (by extension) the Cross
- Codex Vercillensis
- Wæs sē bēam bōcstafum āwriten.
- The tree was inscribed with letters.
- Codex Vercillensis
- Middle English: beem, beam, bem, beme, beume; beam, beame; beam, beom
From Old Frisian bām, from Proto-West Germanic *baum.
beam c (plural beammen, diminutive beamke)
- “beam”, in Wurdboek fan de Fryske taal (in Dutch), 2011
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