a. Any of various tall perennial grasses, especially of the genera Phragmites and Arundo, having hollow stems and large plumelike panicles and growing in wetlands.
b. Any of several similar plants, such as the papyrus.
c. The stalk of any of these plants.
d. A collection of these stalks: reed for making baskets.
2. Music A primitive wind instrument made of a hollow reed stalk.
a. A flexible strip of cane or metal set into the mouthpiece or air opening of certain instruments to produce tone by vibrating in response to a stream of air.
b. An instrument, such as an oboe or clarinet, that is fitted with a reed.
4. A narrow movable frame fitted with reed or metal strips that separate the warp threads in weaving.
5. Architecture A reeding.
[Middle English red, rede, from Old English hrēod.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2019 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.