General English


  • verb a signal transmitted repeatedly by a device that is malfunctioning on a network


  • A light that indicates a location by directing its powerful beam slightly above the horizontal and rotating it so that to a stationary observer, it appears to be flashing. A beacon is used at airports, on lighthouses, etc.


  • A station, structure, or device which emits guiding, orienting, or warning signals which assist marine or aeronautical navigation.
  • A signal which serves as a navigational aid that guides, orients, or warns. Such a signal may assist in marine or aeronautical navigation, and may be in the form of light, radio, radar, acoustic, or other types of signals or waves. Also called beacon signal.
  • A navigational aid for a robot. Such an aid may be passive or active. An example of a passive aid is a set of reflectors, while an active one may be acoustic in nature.
  • acronymBCN


  • noun a bonfire or light used as a signal or warning
  • noun a lamp designed for use as a beacon
  • noun a radio transmitter which acts as a guide to shipping or aircraft
  • noun a hill traditionally used for beacon fires

Origin & History of “beacon”

In Old English, bēacen meant simply ‘sign’; it did not develop its modern senses ‘signal fire’ and ‘lighthouse’ until the 14th century. Its source is west Germanic *baukna, from which English also gets beckon (OE).