• synonyms


  1. a guiding or warning signal, as a light or fire, especially one in an elevated position.
  2. a tower or hill used for such purposes.
  3. a lighthouse, signal buoy, etc., on a shore or at a dangerous area at sea to warn and guide vessels.
  4. Navigation.
    1. radio beacon.
    2. a radar device at a fixed location that, upon receiving a radar pulse, transmits a reply pulse that enables the original sender to determine his or her position relative to the fixed location.
  5. a person, act, or thing that warns or guides.
  6. a person or thing that illuminates or inspires: The Bible has been our beacon during this trouble.
  7. Digital Technology. web beacon.
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verb (used with object)
  1. to serve as a beacon to; warn or guide.
  2. to furnish or mark with beacons: a ship assigned to beacon the shoals.
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verb (used without object)
  1. to serve or shine as a beacon: A steady light beaconed from the shore.
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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]
  1. a city in SE New York.
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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for beacons

flare, lantern, radar, rocket, alarm, sign, beam, lamp, watchtower, alert, bonfire, lighthouse, heliograph, pharos, lodestar, balefire, guidepost

Examples from the Web for beacons

Contemporary Examples of beacons

Historical Examples of beacons

  • The beacons solved that problem and opened the entire universe.

    The Repairman

    Harry Harrison

  • For this reason, most beacons are built on uninhabited planets.

    The Repairman

    Harry Harrison

  • Beacons had been prepared on every hill and headland, and men were set to watch.

    Red Cap Tales

    Samuel Rutherford Crockett

  • We have experience, we have beacons, we have landmarks enough.

  • Now the Corporation, with its jurisdiction and beacons, is purely modern.

British Dictionary definitions for beacons


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



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.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper