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

  • n. A gesture of beckoning or summons.
  • idiom at (someone's) beck and call Ready to comply with any wish or command.
  • n. Chiefly British A small brook; a creek.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A stream or small river.
  • n. A significant nod, or motion of the head or hand, especially as a call or command.
  • v. To nod or motion with the head.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. See beak.
  • n. A small brook.
  • n. A vat. See back.
  • n. A significant nod, or motion of the head or hand, esp. as a call or command.
  • intransitive v. To nod, or make a sign with the head or hand.
  • transitive v. To notify or call by a nod, or a motion of the head or hand; to intimate a command to.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To signal by a nod or other significant gesture; beckon.
  • To recognize a person by a slight bow or nod.
  • To summon or intimate some command or desire to by a nod or gesture; beckon to.
  • To express by a gesture: as, to beck thanks.
  • n. A brook; a small stream; especially, a brook with a stony bed or rugged course.
  • n. The valley of a beck; a field or patch of ground adjacent to a brook. See batch.
  • n. A nod of the head or other significant gesture intended to be understood as expressive of a desire, or as a sign of command.
  • n. A gesture of salutation or recognition; a bow; a courtesy.
  • n. An agricultural implement with two hooks, used in dressing turnips, etc.; a form of mattock.
  • n. A beak.
  • n. Any pointed or projecting part of the dress, especially of a head-dress, as of the bycocket.
  • n. A vat or vessel used in a dye-house; a back.
  • n. Same as beck-harman.

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

  • n. a beckoning gesture


Middle English bek, from bekken, to beckon, alteration of bekenen; see beckon.
Middle English, from Old Norse bekkr; see bhegw- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Old Norse bekkr ("a stream or brook"). Cognate with German Bach. More at beach. (Wiktionary)
A shortened form of beckon, from Old English bēcnan, from Proto-Germanic *bauknan (“beacon”). (Wiktionary)



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  • Merriam-Webster Dictionary:
    Etymology: Middle English bek, from Old Norse bekkr; akin to Old English bæc brook, Old High German bah
    Date: 14th century
    British : creek

    "Oh, dear, if I was but a little chap in Vendale again, to see the clear beck, and the apple-orchard, and the yew-hedge, how different I would go on!"
    _Water Babies - Charles Kingsley, 1937

    January 31, 2008

  • and a gesture used to summon someone

    July 18, 2007

  • beck in the sense of a small, steep brook or stream

    January 16, 2007