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Main Entry: 1bead
Etymology: Middle English bede "prayer, rosary bead," from Old English bed "prayer" 1: a small piece of solid material with a hole by which it can be strung on a thread 2: a small round mass <beads of perspiration> 3: a small knob on a gun used in taking aim 4: a rim or molding (as on a board or tire) that sticks out Word History The beads you might wear around your neck once represented prayers. The Middle English word bede at first meant "a prayer." People then, as now, often kept track of the number and order of a series of prayers with the help of a string of little balls. Because each of these balls stands for a prayer, the word bede came to be used for the balls themselves. Today this same word, now spelled bead, is used to refer to any small piece of material with a hole in it for threading on a string or wire. It has also been used to refer to any small, round object such as a drop of sweat.