Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. The horny, projecting structure forming the mandibles of a bird, especially one that is strong, sharp, and useful in striking and tearing; a bill.
  • n. A similar structure in other animals, such as turtles, insects, or fish.
  • n. A usually firm, tapering tip on certain plant structures, such as some seeds and fruits.
  • n. A beaklike structure or part, as:
  • n. The spout of a pitcher.
  • n. A metal or metal-clad ram projecting from the bow of an ancient warship.
  • n. Informal The human nose.
  • n. Chiefly British Slang A schoolmaster.
  • n. Chiefly British Slang A judge.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A rigid structure projecting from the front of a bird's face, used for pecking, grooming and for eating food.
  • n. A similar structure forming the jaws of an octopus.
  • n. The metal point fixed on the bows of a war galley, used as a ram.
  • n. A justice of the peace, magistrate, headmaster or other person of authority.
  • n. The human nose, especially one that is large and pointed.
  • v. strike with the beak.
  • v. seize with the beak.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n.
  • n. The bill or nib of a bird, consisting of a horny sheath, covering the jaws. The form varies much according to the food and habits of the bird, and is largely used in the classification of birds.
  • n. A similar bill in other animals, as the turtles.
  • n. The long projecting sucking mouth of some insects, and other invertebrates, as in the Hemiptera.
  • n. The upper or projecting part of the shell, near the hinge of a bivalve.
  • n. The prolongation of certain univalve shells containing the canal.
  • n. Anything projecting or ending in a point, like a beak, as a promontory of land.
  • n. A beam, shod or armed at the end with a metal head or point, and projecting from the prow of an ancient galley, in order to pierce the vessel of an enemy; a beakhead.
  • n. That part of a ship, before the forecastle, which is fastened to the stem, and supported by the main knee.
  • n. A continuous slight projection ending in an arris or narrow fillet; that part of a drip from which the water is thrown off.
  • n. Any process somewhat like the beak of a bird, terminating the fruit or other parts of a plant.
  • n. A toe clip. See Clip, n. (Far.).
  • n. A magistrate or policeman.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • In cock-fighting, to seize or strike with the beak.
  • To ram (a ship) with the beak or prow so as to penetrate the hull in an endeavor to sink it.
  • n. In zoology, the rostrum, snout, muzzle, jaws, mandibles, or some similar part of an animal.
  • n. Anything ending in a point like a beak.
  • n. A gas-burner having a round smooth hole of an inch in diameter; a bird's-mouth.
  • n. A beak-iron (which see).
  • n. A magistrate; a judge; a policeman.
  • n. In the shells of the Brachiopoda (Molluscoidea) and Pelecypoda (Mollusca), the projecting, usually arched, part of the valves; the initial part of the shell about which accretions by growth have been added unequally.
  • n. Specifically, the mouthpiece of instruments like the clarinet and some varieties of flageolets or direct flutes.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. informal terms for the nose
  • n. horny projecting mouth of a bird
  • n. a beaklike, tapering tip on certain plant structures
  • n. beaklike mouth of animals other than birds (e.g., turtles)
  • v. hit lightly with a picking motion

Etymologies

Middle English bek, from Old French bec, from Latin beccus, of Celtic origin.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Middle English bec, from Anglo-Norman, from Old French bec, from Latin beccus, from Gaulish *beccos (“chicken beak”, literally "small"), (compare Irish beag ("little"), Welsh bach, bychan Breton bac'h, bihan and beg ("beak"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Size, shape, and strength of chick beak is impacted when the gene is manipulated.

    Ancient Sleep and Flipping Switches

  • As the Yoon paper states, you have this large diversity of finch species marked off by variations in beak size.

    Ancient Sleep and Flipping Switches

  • However, this only works when the base of the beak is wet.

    Archive 2008-03-01

  • Adaptive changes in beak size/shape could then be considered "epigenetic" – sensitive to selection pressures, but not a result of random mutations in the beak gene.

    Behe Responds

  • Changes in beak traits is the prediction based on how Natural Selection works.

    Behe Responds

  • Rukh carrying off three elephants in beak and pounces with the proportions of a hawk and field mice: and the Rukh hawking at an elephant is a favourite Persian subject.

    The Book of The Thousand Nights And A Night

  • The proverbial finch beak is extrapolated out over millions of years to produce novel features.

    Demarcation as Politics

  • The Pelican of ordinary zoology is an aquatic fowl approximately six feet tall with a long, broad beak from whose lower jaw there hangs a reddish membrane forming a sort of sack or basket for holding fish; the Pelican of fable is smaller, and its beak is short and sharp.

    Archive 2008-09-01

  • The beak is only cartilage, like our finger nails, and debeaking does no harm usually.

    Think Progress » ThinkFast AM: June 30, 2006

  • The illusion would be that each species beak is designed a priori for its particular food source.

    Analogy, How Scientifically Powerful is It?

Wordnik is becoming a not-for-profit! Read our announcement here.

Comments

Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • I didn't know the sense of "schoolmaster" 'til now.

    As in: "At his school, Harrow, one of the beaks from his house, Druries (where Lord Byron had been, not to mention Lord Palmerston, who had died only a year before), had noticed Lenox's height and asked him to come row for the house team."
    The September Society by Charles Finch, p 14

    December 11, 2011

  • Citation (as slang for magistrate) on peeler.

    June 30, 2008

  • Haha!

    March 11, 2008

  • "'You would have rejoiced in the birds. There was one with a beak.'

    "'That alone would have been worth the voyage.'"
    --Patrick O'Brian, The Truelove, 243

    March 11, 2008