a. Any of various twining herbs of the genus Phaseolus in the pea family, native to the Americas, having leaves with three leaflets and variously colored flowers, and widely cultivated for their edible pods and seeds.
b. A seed or pod of any of these plants.
2. Any of several related plants or their seeds or pods, such as the adzuki bean, broad bean, or soybean.
3. Any of various other plants or their seeds or fruits, especially those suggestive of beans such as the coffee bean or vanilla bean.
4. Slang A person's head.
5. beans Slang A small amount: I don't know beans about investing.
6. Chiefly British A fellow; a chap.
tr.v. beaned, bean·ing, beansIdioms:
To hit (another) on the head with a thrown object, especially a pitched baseball.
full of beans
1. Energetic; frisky: The children were too full of beans to sit still.
2. Badly mistaken: Don't believe him; he's full of beans.
spill the beans
To disclose a secret.
[Middle English ben, broad bean, from Old English bēan; see bha-bhā- 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.