a. A signal fire, especially one used to warn of an enemy's approach.
b. A signaling or guiding device that emits light, such as a lighthouse.
c. A radio transmitter that emits a characteristic guidance signal for aircraft.
d. A signaling device that emits a repeating sound; a pinger.
2. A source of guidance or inspiration: a beacon of hope.
tr. & intr.v. bea·coned, bea·con·ing, bea·cons
To provide with or signal as a beacon.
[Middle English beken, from Old English bēacen; see bhā-1 in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.