1a long, sturdy piece of squared timber or metal used to support the roof or floor of a building:there are very fine oak beams in the oldest part of the housethe cottage boasts a wealth of exposed beams
a narrow, raised horizontal piece of squared timber on which a gymnast balances while performing exercises:a compulsory set of exercises on floor, vault, bars, and beam
a horizontal piece of squared timber or metal supporting the deck and joining the sides of a ship:the watertight skin and deck were put on over this framework of ribs and beams
Nautical the direction of an object visible from the port or starboard side of a ship when it is perpendicular to the centre line of the vessel:there was land in sight on the port beam
a ship’s breadth at its widest point:a cutter with a beam of 16 feet
informal the width of a person’s hips:notice how broad in the beam she’s getting?
the main stem of a stag’s antler:the wide beams sprouted ten main tines
the crossbar of a balance.
an oscillating shaft which transmits the vertical piston movement of a beam engine to the crank or pump.
the shank of an anchor.
historical the main timber of a horse-drawn plough.
2a ray or shaft of light:a beam of light flashed in front of herthe torch beam dimmed perceptibly
a directional flow of particles or radiation:beams of electrons
a series of radio or radar signals emitted as a navigational guide for ships or aircraft:the detector simply pinpoints the radar beams that other ships transmit
3a radiant or good-natured look or smile:a beam of satisfaction
1 [with object and adverbial of direction] transmit (a radio signal or broadcast) in a specified direction:the satellite beamed back radio signals to scientists on Earth
[with object] (beam someone up/down) (in science fiction) transport someone instantaneously to or from a spaceship:mission controller, beam me up!
[phrase from the American television series Star Trek]
2 [no object, with adverbial of direction] (of a light or light source) shine brightly:the sun’s rays beamed down
3 [no object] smile radiantly:she beamed with pleasure
[with object] express (an emotion) with a radiant smile:the instructress beamed her approval
a beam in one's eye
a fault that is greater in oneself than in the person one is finding fault with:economic forecasters should consider the beam in their own eye before criticizing the government’s figures
[with biblical allusion to Matt. 7:3]
off (or way off) beam
informal on the wrong track; mistaken:you’re way off beam on this one
on the beam
informal on the right track:I’ve had a couple of stormy sessions with the old rascal trying to keep him on the beam
on her (or its) beam ends
(of a ship) heeled over on its side; almost capsized.
on one's beam ends
near the end of one’s resources; desperate:if they were on their beam ends they might brave an audience with Fisher
Old Englishbēam 'tree, beam', of West Germanic origin; related to Dutch boom and German Baum