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.
a necklace of beads:
You don't have your beads on this evening.
Obsolete. devotions; prayers.
any small globular or cylindrical body.
a drop of liquid:
beads of moisture.
a bubble rising through effervescent liquid.
Usually, beads. a mass of such bubbles on the surface of a liquid.
the front sight of a rifle or gun.
a reinforced area of a rubber tire terminating the sidewall and fitting within the rim of a wheel.
Electricity. a glass, ceramic, or plastic insulator that contains and supports the inner conductor in a coaxial cable.
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.
Metallurgy. the rounded mass of refined metal obtained by cupellation.
Architecture, Furniture. a small molding having a convex circular section and, usually, a continuous cylindrical surface; astragal.
Welding. a continuous deposit of fused metal, either straight (stringer bead) or zigzag (weave bead)
verb (used with object)
to form or cause to form beads or a bead on.
to ornament with beads.
Carpentry. to form a bead on (a piece).
verb (used without object)
to form beads; form in beads or drops:
perspiration beading on his forehead.
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.
draw / get a bead on, to take careful aim at:
The marksman drew a bead on his target.
before 900;Middle Englishbede prayer, prayer bead (where, on a rosary each bead symbolizes a prayer, the word for the notion symbolized was transferred to the designating object), Old Englishgebed prayer; akin to bid1, GermanGebet
late 14c., bede "prayer bead," from O.E. gebed "prayer," from P.Gmc. *beðan (cf. M.Du. bede, O.H.G. beta, Ger. bitte, Goth. 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. Ger. cognate Bitte is the usual word for conversational request "please." Also related to bid (O.E. biddan) and Goth. 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.