The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48:
Bead \Bead\ (b[=e]d), n. [OE. bede prayer, prayer bead, AS. bed,
gebed, prayer; akin to D. bede, G. bitte, AS. biddan, to ask,
bid, G. bitten to ask, and perh. to Gr. pei`qein to persuade,
L. fidere to trust. Beads are used by the Roman Catholics to
count their prayers, one bead being dropped down a string
every time a prayer is said. Cf. Sp. cuenta bead, fr. contar
to count. See Bid, in to bid beads, and Bide.]
1. A prayer. [Obs.]
2. A little perforated ball, to be strung on a thread, and
worn for ornament; or used in a rosary for counting
prayers, as by Roman Catholics and Mohammedans, whence the
phrases to tell beads,
to be at one's beads,
to bid beads, etc., meaning, to be at prayer.
3. Any small globular body; as,
(a) A bubble in spirits.
(b) A drop of sweat or other liquid. "Cold beads of
midnight dew." --Wordsworth.
(c) A small knob of metal on a firearm, used for taking
aim (whence the expression to draw a bead, for, to
(d) (Arch.) A small molding of rounded surface, the
section being usually an arc of a circle. It may be
continuous, or broken into short embossments.
(e) (Chem.) A glassy drop of molten flux, as borax or
microcosmic salt, used as a solvent and color test for
several mineral earths and oxides, as of iron,
manganese, etc., before the blowpipe; as, the borax
bead; the iron bead, etc.
Bead and butt (Carp.), framing in which the panels are
flush, having beads stuck or run upon the two edges.
Bead mold, a species of fungus or mold, the stems of which
consist of single cells loosely jointed together so as to
resemble a string of beads. [Written also bead mould.]
Bead tool, a cutting tool, having an edge curved so as to
make beads or beading.
Bead tree (Bot.), a tree of the genus Melia, the best
known species of which (Melia azedarach), has blue
flowers which are very fragrant, and berries which are