verb (used with or without object)

to signal, summon, or direct by a gesture of the head or hand.
to lure; entice.


a nod, gesture, etc., that signals, directs, summons, indicates agreement, or the like.

Origin of beckon

before 950; Middle English beknen, Old English gebē(a)cnian, derivative of bēacen beacon
Related formsbeck·on·er, nounbeck·on·ing·ly, adverbun·beck·oned, adjective

Synonyms for beckon Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for beckoning

Contemporary Examples of beckoning

Historical Examples of beckoning

  • Gallus told him and he vanished through the curtains, whence he returned presently, beckoning them to advance.


    H. Rider Haggard

  • Shiminya rose, and, beckoning the other to follow, opened and crept through the door of the hut behind him.

  • The air grew chilly and Miss Carthew appeared from the door, beckoning to Michael.

    Sinister Street, vol. 1

    Compton Mackenzie

  • "You are getting onto thin ice," screamed Grace in despair, beckoning wildly.

  • They had much to confer about, with the uncertain future beckoning them on; and the main history of the cruise yet to be written.

British Dictionary definitions for beckoning



to summon with a gesture of the hand or head
to entice or lure


a summoning gesture
Derived Formsbeckoner, nounbeckoning, adjective, noun

Word Origin for beckon

Old English bīecnan, from bēacen sign; related to Old Saxon bōknian; see beacon
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 beckoning



Old English gebecnian (West Saxon beacnian) "to make a mute sign," derivative of beacen "a sign, beacon," from Proto-Germanic *bauknjan (cf. Old Saxon boknian, Old High German bouhnen), from PIE root *bha- "to shine" (see beacon). Related: Beckoned; beckoning. The noun is attested from 1718, from the verb.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper