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[bek-uh n] /ˈbɛk ən/
verb (used with object), verb (used 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 forms
beckoner, noun
beckoningly, adverb
unbeckoned, adjective
1. motion, wave, gesture, bid, nod. 2. invite, attract, draw, coax, tempt, tantalize, allure, beguile. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for beckon
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Mr. O'Carroll, without answering by voice, gave a grotesque sort of signal between a wink and a beckon.

    Devereux, Complete Edward Bulwer-Lytton
  • Squalor and tragedy can beckon to all that is great in us, and strengthen the wings of love.

    Howards End E. M. Forster
  • Alice exclaimed, as she noticed Mr. Pertell beckon Captain Brisco to him.

  • They can beckon; it is not certain that they will, for they are not love's servants.

    Howards End E. M. Forster
  • Hugh glanced toward his father's door, whence at any moment, as every one realized, the actor might beckon.

    Gideon's Band George W. Cable
  • He took a step toward her, and the rippling scarf seemed to beckon him on.

    The Prisoner Alice Brown
  • She knows she can summon an adorer by one beckon of her fan, and dismiss him by another.

  • The leader will then repeat louder, or beckon to the scout to come in nearer.

    Boy Scouts Handbook Boy Scouts of America
British Dictionary definitions for beckon


to summon with a gesture of the hand or head
to entice or lure
a summoning gesture
Derived Forms
beckoner, noun
beckoning, adjective, noun
Word Origin
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
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Word Origin and History for beckon

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
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