• synonyms


  1. a parish officer having various subordinate duties, as keeping order during services, waiting on the rector, etc.
  2. sexton(def 2).
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Origin of beadle

before 1000; Middle English bedel, dial. (SE) variant of bidel, Old English bydel apparitor, herald (cognate with German Büttel), equivalent to bud- (weak stem of bēodan to command) + -il noun suffix
Related formssub·bea·dle, nounun·der·bea·dle, noun


  1. George Wells,1903–1989, U.S. biologist and educator: Nobel Prize in Medicine 1958.
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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for beadle

Historical Examples of beadle

  • They were mostly Beadle's Dime Novels, which had a great sale at the time.

    In the Midst of Alarms

    Robert Barr

  • As to Beadle, that I needn't say was wholly out of the question.

    Little Dorrit

    Charles Dickens

  • I roused my energies, and the next time the wily Beadle summoned me, I went.

  • I'll do it if the beadle follows in his cocked hat; not else.

  • The Beadle took first prize at the cat show held in Chicago in 1896.

    Concerning Cats

    Helen M. Winslow

British Dictionary definitions for beadle


  1. (formerly, in the Church of England) a minor parish official who acted as an usher and kept order
  2. (in Scotland) a church official attending on the minister
  3. Judaism a synagogue attendantSee also shammes
  4. an official in certain British universities and other institutions
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Derived Formsbeadleship, noun

Word Origin for beadle

Old English bydel; related to Old High German butil bailiff


  1. George Wells . 1903–89, US biologist, who shared the Nobel prize for physiology or medicine in 1958 for his work in genetics
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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 beadle


Old English bydel "herald, messenger from an authority, preacher," from beodan "to proclaim" (see bid). Sense of "warrant officer, tipstaff" was in late Old English; that of "petty parish officer," which has given the job a bad reputation, is from 1590s. French bédeau (Old French bedel, 12c.) is a Germanic loan-word.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

beadle in Medicine


(bēdl)George Wells 1903-1989
  1. American biologist. He shared a 1958 Nobel Prize for discovering how genes transmit hereditary characteristics.
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The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.