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BEAM (from the O. Eng. beam, cf. Ger....

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Originally appearing in Volume V03, Page 572 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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BEAM (from the O. Eng. beam, cf. Ger. Baum, a tree, to which sense may be referred the use of " beam " as meaning the rood or crucifix, and the survival in certain names of trees, as horn-beam), a solid piece of timber, as a beam of a house, of a plough, a loom, or a balance. In the last case, from meaning simply the cross-bar of the balance, " beam " has come to be used of the whole, as in the expression " the king's beam," or " common beam," which refers to the old English standard balance for wholesale goods, for several hundred years in the custody of the Grocers' Company, London. As a nautical term, " beam " was transferred from the main cross-timbers to the side of the ship; thus " on the weather-beam " means " to windward," and a ship is said to be " wide in the beam " when she is wide horizon-tally. The phrase " to be on one's beam-ends," denoting a position of extreme peril or helplessness, is borrowed from the position of a ship which has heeled over so far as to stand on the ends of her horizontal beams, The meaning of " beam" for shafts or rays of light comes apparently from the use of the word to translate the Latin columna lucis, a pillar of light.
End of Article: BEAM (from the O. Eng. beam, cf. Ger. Baum, a tree, to which sense may be referred the use of " beam " as meaning the rood or crucifix, and the survival in certain names of trees, as horn-beam)
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