verb (used with object)

to serve as a beacon to; warn or guide.
to furnish or mark with beacons: a ship assigned to beacon the shoals.

verb (used without object)

to serve or shine as a beacon: A steady light beaconed from the shore.

Origin of beacon

before 950; Middle English beken, Old English bēacen sign, signal; cognate with Old Frisian bāken, Old Saxon bōkan, Old High German bouhhan
Related formsbea·con·less, adjectiveun·bea·coned, adjective

Synonyms for beacon

1. beam, buoy, pharos; signal fire; balefire.


[bee-kuh n]


a city in SE New York. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for beacon

British Dictionary definitions for beacon



a signal fire or light on a hill, tower, etc, esp one used formerly as a warning of invasion
a hill on which such fires were lit
a lighthouse, signalling buoy, etc, used to warn or guide ships in dangerous waters
short for radio beacon
a radio or other signal marking a flight course in air navigation
short for Belisha beacon
a person or thing that serves as a guide, inspiration, or warning
a stone set by a surveyor to mark a corner or line of a site boundary, etc


to guide or warn
(intr) to shine

Word Origin for beacon

Old English beacen sign; related to Old Frisian bāken, Old Saxon bōcan, Old High German bouhhan
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 beacon

Old English beacen "sign, portent, lighthouse," from West Germanic *baukna "beacon, signal" (cf. Old Frisian baken, Old Saxon bokan, Old High German bouhhan); not found outside Germanic. Perhaps borrowed from Latin bucina "a crooked horn or trumpet, signal horn." But more likely from PIE *bhew-, a variant of the base *bha- "to gleam, shine" (see phantasm). Figurative use from c.1600.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper