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a guiding or warning signal, as a light or fire, especially one in an elevated position.
a tower or hill used for such purposes.
a lighthouse, signal buoy, etc., on a shore or at a dangerous area at sea to warn and guide vessels.

radio beacon.
a radar device at a fixed location that, upon receiving a radar pulse, transmits a reply pulse that enables the original sender to determine his or her position relative to the fixed location.

a person, act, or thing that warns or guides.
a person or thing that illuminates or inspires:
The Bible has been our beacon during this trouble.
Digital Technology, web beacon.
to serve as a beacon to; warn or guide.
to furnish or mark with beacons:
a ship assigned to beacon the shoals.
to serve or shine as a beacon:
A steady light beaconed from the shore.
a city in SE New York.
Contemporary Examples

And while Serena and Venus continue to be the beacon of the sport, no outright future champion has made his or her stamp.
Is Sloane Stephens the New Serena of American Tennis? Nicholas McCarvel January 22, 2013

John Paul II told the European Union at the time that it was “a beacon of civilization.”
Pope’s Blistering Attack on ‘Haggard’ Europe Nico Hines November 25, 2014

Abe Foxman is notoriously humorless on these matters; one wonders if the beacon is in line for a letter from the ADL.
Michael Goldfarb Doesn’t Care About Facts Ali Gharib February 24, 2013

But thanks to Josh Fox, who says beacon International also reached out to Susan Sarandon and Who Killed the Electric Car?
Inside a Hollywood Hit Job: How Sting Artist James O’Keefe Tried to Set His Latest Trap – And Got Stung Himself Caitlin Dickson May 21, 2014

Our beloved Lady Liberty has been a beacon of hope for millions of people seeking a better life.
Is it Time to Send Lady Liberty Back to France? Gene Robinson July 19, 2014

Historical Examples

In all this tumult, away to the northeast, the beacon light above the Sunrise dome was cutting the darkness with a steady beam.
A Master’s Degree Margaret Hill McCarter

Ah, then beacon Street is one of the principal streets, is it?
One Day’s Courtship Robert Barr

His musket was stuck in the ground, by way of beacon attracting our attention to the spot.
Edgar Huntley Charles Brockden Brown

Let us see if the beacon that lights to the throne should not show the path to the shrine also.’
Gerald Fitzgerald Charles James Lever

He was laid upon one of the narrow frame-beds of the beacon, and despatched in a boat to the tender.
The Lighthouse R.M. Ballantyne

a signal fire or light on a hill, tower, etc, esp one used formerly as a warning of invasion
a hill on which such fires were lit
a lighthouse, signalling buoy, etc, used to warn or guide ships in dangerous waters
short for radio beacon
a radio or other signal marking a flight course in air navigation
short for Belisha beacon
a person or thing that serves as a guide, inspiration, or warning
a stone set by a surveyor to mark a corner or line of a site boundary, etc
to guide or warn
(intransitive) to shine

Old English beacen “sign, portent, lighthouse,” from West Germanic *baukna “beacon, signal” (cf. Old Frisian baken, Old Saxon bokan, Old High German bouhhan); not found outside Germanic. Perhaps borrowed from Latin bucina “a crooked horn or trumpet, signal horn.” But more likely from PIE *bhew-, a variant of the base *bha- “to gleam, shine” (see phantasm). Figurative use from c.1600.

a pole (Heb. to’ren) used as a standard or ensign set on the tops of mountains as a call to the people to assemble themselves for some great national purpose (Isa. 30:17). In Isa. 33:23 and Ezek. 27:5, the same word is rendered “mast.” (See Banner.)


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  • Beacon school

    noun (Brit) a notably successful school whose methods and practices are brought to the attention of the education service as a whole in order that they may be adopted by other schools

  • Beacon status

    noun (Brit) a ranking awarded by the government to an organization, rendering it eligible for extra funding, and aimed at encouraging organizations to share good practice with each other

  • Beaconage

    a number or system of beacons. a tax or fee for maintaining beacons.

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