1. ornamented with or largely composed of beads: a beaded handbag.


  1. a small, usually round object of glass, wood, stone, or the like with a hole through it, often strung with others of its kind in necklaces, rosaries, etc.
  2. beads,
    1. a necklace of beads: You don’t have your beads on this evening.
    2. a rosary.
    3. Obsolete.devotions; prayers.
  3. any small globular or cylindrical body.
  4. a drop of liquid: beads of moisture.
  5. a bubble rising through effervescent liquid.
  6. Usually beads. a mass of such bubbles on the surface of a liquid.
  7. the front sight of a rifle or gun.
  8. a reinforced area of a rubber tire terminating the sidewall and fitting within the rim of a wheel.
  9. Electricity. a glass, ceramic, or plastic insulator that contains and supports the inner conductor in a coaxial cable.
  10. Chemistry. a globule of borax or some other flux, supported on a platinum wire, in which a small amount of some substance is heated in a flame as a test for its constituents.
  11. Metallurgy. the rounded mass of refined metal obtained by cupellation.
  12. Architecture, Furniture. a small molding having a convex circular section and, usually, a continuous cylindrical surface; astragal.
  13. Welding. a continuous deposit of fused metal, either straight (stringer bead) or zigzag (weave bead).

verb (used with object)

  1. to form or cause to form beads or a bead on.
  2. to ornament with beads.
  3. Carpentry. to form a bead on (a piece).

verb (used without object)

  1. to form beads; form in beads or drops: perspiration beading on his forehead.

  1. count/say/tell one’s beads, to say one’s prayers, using rosary beads: There were a few old women counting their beads in the hushed silence of the chapel.
  2. draw/get a bead on, to take careful aim at: The marksman drew a bead on his target.


  1. a small usually spherical piece of glass, wood, plastic, etc, with a hole through it by means of which it may be strung with others to form a necklace, etc
  2. a small drop of moisturea bead of sweat
  3. a small bubble in or on a liquid
  4. a small metallic knob acting as the sight of a firearm
  5. draw a bead on to aim a rifle or pistol at
  6. Also called: astragal architect carpentry a small convex moulding having a semicircular cross section
  7. chem a small solid globule made by fusing a powdered sample with borax or a similar flux on a platinum wire. The colour of the globule serves as a test for the presence of certain metals (bead test)
  8. metallurgy a deposit of welding metal on the surface of a metal workpiece, often used to examine the structure of the weld zone
  9. RC Church one of the beads of a rosary
  10. count one’s beads, say one’s beads or tell one’s beads to pray with a rosary


  1. (tr) to decorate with beads
  2. to form into beads or drops

1570s, “to adorn with beads,” from bead (n.). Meaning “to string like beads” is from 1883. Related: Beaded; beading.


mid-14c., bede “prayer bead,” from Old English gebed “prayer,” with intensive or collective prefix *ge- + Proto-Germanic *bidjan “to pray, entreat” (cf. Middle Dutch bede, Old High German beta, German bitte, Gothic bida “prayer, request”), from PIE *gwhedh- “to ask, pray.” Shift in meaning came via beads threaded on a string to count prayers, and in phrases like to bid one’s beads, to count one’s beads. German cognate Bitte is the usual word for conversational request “please.” Also related to bid (Old English biddan) and Gothic bidjan “to ask, pray.” Sense transferred to “drop of liquid” 1590s; to “small knob forming front sight of a gun” 1831 (Kentucky slang); hence draw a bead on “take aim at,” 1841, U.S. colloquial.


  1. Having numerous small rounded projections often in a row.
  2. Relating to, or being a series of noncontinuous bacterial colonies along the line of inoculation in a stab culture.
  3. Of, relating to, or being stained bacteria that have more deeply stained granules occurring at regular intervals.

see draw a bead on.

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