• synonyms


  1. Nautical, Aeronautics. at right angles to the fore-and-aft line: The vessel was sailing with the wind directly abeam.
  2. directly abreast the middle of a ship's side.
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Origin of abeam

First recorded in 1830–40; a-1 + beam
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for abeam

Historical Examples

  • For if ahead, he would have stopped; if abeam, stood for it.

    Christopher Columbus and His Monument Columbia


  • The schooner flying the Mexican flag remained hove to abeam.


    Joseph Conrad and F.M. Hueffer

  • Just as the 'Texas' got abeam of her she was shaken by a mighty explosion.

  • The 'Oregon' was abeam of the 'Colon' then, and the gallant Don gave it up.

  • Soon we had it off our bow, abeam, on our quarter; we were inshore.

    The U-boat hunters

    James B. Connolly

British Dictionary definitions for abeam


adverb, adjective
  1. (postpositive) at right angles to the length and directly opposite the centre of a vessel or aircraft
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Word Origin

C19: a- ² + beam
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for abeam


"at right angles to the keel," c.1836, nautical, literally "on beam;" see a- (1) + beam (n.).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper