follow Dictionary.com

It’s about time. We are now on Instagram!

reed

[reed] /rid/
noun
1.
the straight stalk of any of various tall grasses, especially of the genera Phragmites and Arundo, growing in marshy places.
2.
any of the plants themselves.
3.
such stalks or plants collectively.
4.
anything made from such a stalk or from something similar, as an arrow.
5.
Music.
  1. a pastoral or rustic musical pipe made from a reed or from the hollow stalk of some other plant.
  2. a small, flexible piece of cane or metal that, attached to the mouth of any of various wind instruments, is set into vibration by a stream of air and, in turn, sets into vibration the air column enclosed in the tube of the instrument.
  3. reed instrument.
6.
Textiles. the series of parallel strips of wires in a loom that force the weft up to the web and separate the threads of the warp.
7.
an ancient unit of length, equal to 6 cubits. Ezek. 40:5.
verb (used with object)
8.
to decorate with reed.
9.
to thatch with or as if with reed.
10.
to make vertical grooves on (the edge of a coin, medal, etc.).
Idioms
11.
a broken reed, a person or thing too frail or weak to be relied on for support:
Under stress he showed himself to be a broken reed.
Origin
900
before 900; Middle English; Old English hrēod; cognate with German, Dutch riet
Related forms
reedlike, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
Cite This Source
British Dictionary definitions for a broken reed

reed

/riːd/
noun
1.
any of various widely distributed tall grasses of the genus Phragmites, esp P. communis, that grow in swamps and shallow water and have jointed hollow stalks
2.
the stalk, or stalks collectively, of any of these plants, esp as used for thatching
3.
(music)
  1. a thin piece of cane or metal inserted into the tubes of certain wind instruments, which sets in vibration the air column inside the tube
  2. a wind instrument or organ pipe that sounds by means of a reed
4.
one of the several vertical parallel wires on a loom that may be moved upwards to separate the warp threads
5.
a small semicircular architectural moulding See also reeding
6.
an ancient Hebrew unit of length equal to six cubits
7.
an archaic word for arrow
8.
broken reed, a weak, unreliable, or ineffectual person
verb (transitive)
9.
to fashion into or supply with reeds or reeding
10.
to thatch using reeds
Word Origin
Old English hreod; related to Old Saxon hriod, Old High German hriot

Reed

/riːd/
noun
1.
Sir Carol. 1906–76, English film director. His films include The Third Man (1949), An Outcast of the Islands (1951), and Oliver! (1968), for which he won an Oscar
2.
Lou. born 1942, US rock singer, songwriter, and guitarist: member of the Velvet Underground (1965–70). His albums include Transformer (1972), Berlin (1973), Street Hassle (1978), New York (1989), Set the Twilight Reeling (1996), and The Raven (2003)
3.
Walter. 1851–1902, US physician, who proved that yellow fever is transmitted by mosquitoes (1900)
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
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for a broken reed

reed

n.

"tall, broad-leafed grass growing in wet places," Old English hreod "reed, rush," from Proto-Germanic *kreut- "reed" (cf. Old Saxon hraid, Old Frisian hriad, Middle Dutch ried, Dutch riet, Old High German hriot, German Ried), with no known cognates beyond Germanic.

Meaning "musical pipe made from a reed stem" is from late 14c. (reed-pipe is from c.1300). As part of the mouthpiece of a musical instrument it is attested from 1520s. Meaning "a reed instrument" is from 1838.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source
a broken reed in Medicine

Reed (rēd), Walter. 1851-1902.

American surgeon who led the commission that proved experimentally that yellow fever is transmitted by mosquitoes.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Cite This Source
a broken reed in Science
Reed
  (rēd)   
American physician and army surgeon who proved in 1900 that yellow fever was transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito. His research led to the mosquito eradication programs carried out by William Gorgas that virtually eradicated yellow fever from Havana, Cuba, and from the Panama Canal Zone.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
Cite This Source
a broken reed in Culture

reed definition


A thin piece of wood or plastic used in many woodwind instruments. It vibrates when the player holds it in the mouth and blows over it (as with a single reed) or through it (as with a double reed). Clarinets and saxophones use a single reed; bassoons and oboes use a double reed.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
Cite This Source
a broken reed in the Bible

(1.) "Paper reeds" (Isa. 19:7; R.V., "reeds"). Heb. 'aroth, properly green herbage growing in marshy places. (2.) Heb. kaneh (1 Kings 14:15; Job 40:21; Isa. 19:6), whence the Gr. kanna, a "cane," a generic name for a reed of any kind. The reed of Egypt and Palestine is the Arundo donax, which grows to the height of 12 feet, its stalk jointed like the bamboo, "with a magnificent panicle of blossom at the top, and so slender and yielding that it will lie perfectly flat under a gust of wind, and immediately resume its upright position." It is used to illustrate weakness (2 Kings 18:21; Ezek. 29:6), also fickleness or instability (Matt. 11:7; comp. Eph. 4:14). A "bruised reed" (Isa. 42:3; Matt. 12:20) is an emblem of a believer weak in grace. A reed was put into our Lord's hands in derision (Matt. 27:29); and "they took the reed and smote him on the head" (30). The "reed" on which they put the sponge filled with vinegar (Matt. 27:48) was, according to John (19:29), a hyssop stalk, which must have been of some length, or perhaps a bunch of hyssop twigs fastened to a rod with the sponge. (See CANE.)

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
Cite This Source
Idioms and Phrases with a broken reed

reed

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Difficulty index for reed

All English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for a

0
0
Scrabble Words With Friends

Nearby words for a broken reed