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.

adverb, adjective

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

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

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