Definition of bean in English:



  • 1An edible seed, typically kidney-shaped, growing in long pods on certain leguminous plants.

    ‘a tin of beans’
    ‘beans on toast’
    [as modifier] ‘a bean casserole’
    • ‘In another experiment, bean plants grown from seed given increasing fractions of heavy water showed stunted growth compared with control plants given normal water.’
    • ‘About half the nation's $629 million dry edible bean crop is grown in those two states and Michigan.’
    • ‘They speak Quechua, the language of the Incas, herd alpaca and llamas and grow potatoes and beans, which they trade with their lowland neighbours for corn.’
    • ‘She returned a few minutes later with some boiled yam, an onion and tomato sauce, fried plantain and a bean casserole.’
    • ‘It differs in several ways from small, red, dry beans now grown, beginning with improved resistance to bean common mosaic viruses.’
    • ‘Despite my best efforts I have failed to consume 20 kg of pasta, 30 jars of peanut butter and 50 tins of beans in the last month.’
    • ‘These inhibitors are small proteins found in many plant seeds such as beans, a food regularly eaten by humans.’
    • ‘Black eyed beans - small white kidney shaped bean with black spot at the sproutingpoint.’
    • ‘Adding educational content to the performance, audience members are presented with some seeds, cottonwool and directions on how to grow the beans.’
    • ‘All of the organic grains - wheat, spelt, dry edible beans - are big on the international market now.’
    • ‘The climate of the country allows beans to grow during most of the year, so they are a natural for inclusion in many dishes.’
    • ‘He said he expects much of his work will involve Great Northern beans, as well as pintos and other types of dry edible beans.’
    • ‘Occupation and instruction, without dullness, can be provided by giving the students a plot of ground for growing things in - not a bed for the bean seed only, but a miniature market garden.’
    • ‘As a youngster growing up in Salford he would eat only beans on toast.’
    • ‘The beans are the seeds of the leguminous soybean plant.’
    • ‘There are also shell beans (lima, navy, kidney, mung, garbanzo and soya) that you can grow just for the bean seeds inside the pod.’
    • ‘Smaller than kidney beans, red beans have a unique oval shape and are typically used in chili products and mixes.’
    • ‘We went to Notcutts and bought some compost since my bean seedlings are growing into triffids and need planting out ASAP.’
    • ‘It could be toast or a tin of beans, and we drink tea.’
    • ‘Prior to this face saving embrace of bona fide produce, I considered potatoes and red beans the only edible vegetables.’
    1. 1.1The hard seed of coffee, cocoa, and certain other plants.
      • ‘Some of the world's largest industries are built around beans: coffee and cocoa, for example.’
      • ‘Most of us buy vacuum-sealed packs of roasted beans or ready ground coffee from the supermarkets.’
      • ‘Growers need to plant other crops than just coffee and when they grow coffee, they need to grow higher quality beans.’
      • ‘When I drink the coffee from my café, I think about the Indians in Chiapas, Mexico, who grew the beans.’
      • ‘Meanwhile, 25 million coffee farmers are struggling to survive on the prices they are paid for the beans they grow.’
      • ‘This bean yields a thick coffee with the fragrance of walnuts.’
      • ‘Cocoa processing (crushing the beans to form cocoa powder and butter) is far more profitable than cocoa growing.’
      • ‘Despite its relatively expensive price, customers keep coming back to replenish their supply of fine blends, ground coffee and beans.’
      • ‘It has been difficult for Zambia and other countries in the region to market coffee to Europe because they used to sell raw beans and not processed coffee.’
      • ‘Made from tiny roasted beans, brewed coffee is a popular delivery medium for one's daily dose of caffeine.’
      • ‘Fortunately, much of the copper is retained when the bean is processed into cocoa or chocolate.’
      • ‘If they say they grind fresh beans for their coffee every morning, a box is checked off on a survey form, and follow up questions are asked in a focus group.’
      • ‘Many coffee farmers sell their beans to domestic traders for between 27 to 31 cents a pound, Robinson says.’
      • ‘For the best cup of coffee, grind the beans right before brewing.’
      • ‘Everyone who talks about coffee focuses on the beans.’
      • ‘The tasters did note that coffee from blade-ground beans had less body than coffee from burr-ground beans.’
      • ‘Cacao beans, like coffee, need to be roasted to bring out their flavor.’
      • ‘As you savour your morning coffee, do you ever think about who grew the beans and how much they were paid?’
      • ‘Cocoa beans contain copper and most of the mineral remains preserved after the beans are processed into cocoa or chocolate.’
      • ‘A recent Oxfam report showed that coffee farmers sell their beans at around 60 per cent of what it costs them to produce.’
  • 2A leguminous plant that bears beans in pods.

    • ‘Unlike my aged grandmothers, Casella is a wizard with beans, which he grows with tender care on an organic plot upstate.’
    • ‘Martin, who grows sweet corn and beans, said that the fuel used in tractors has gone up by 2-3 cents a gallon just in the past month.’
    • ‘Hyacinth bean, a vigorous annual vine, can quickly cover an arbor during one season.’
    • ‘Examples include turf grass seed production, dry edible beans, white wheat, feeder pigs, and cattle for the natural beef market.’
    • ‘Unfortunately, white mold is most common in northern growing areas where short-season beans are grown.’
    • ‘Ricin, one of the deadliest naturally occurring poisons, is derived from castor plant beans, which are grown worldwide to produce castor oil.’
    • ‘The first year I tried growing beans in an open field.’
    • ‘Along Highway E, the beans are growing by leaps, wide leaves turned to the morning.’
    • ‘As the beans grow, they receive two further treatments with herbicides.’
    • ‘The height of the structure will depend on the bean variety you're growing, but allow about 6 feet for the vines.’
    • ‘The number growing corn, beans, and rice, the staples of the local diet, fell from 70,000 to 27,000.’
    • ‘Like most edible crops, beans should always be rotated, the exceptions being tomatoes, asparagus and Jerusalem artichokes.’
    • ‘Now I need a little cooperation from Mother Nature in the way of sunshine to get the corn and the beans growing.’
    • ‘Maize and squash were cultivated in river valleys, and after ad 1200 beans were grown too.’
    • ‘One warning: do not plant near beans, caraway, tomatoes, coriander or wormwood-they do not work well together.’
    • ‘Yet, with the population explosion and reclaiming lands for cultivation, part of the forest has been converted to farmland to grow corn and beans.’
    • ‘These varieties differ from typical bean plants by growing over six feet tall and being late in maturity.’
    • ‘For many of these highlanders raising dairy cows is considered the best way to make a living, better than growing beans or other crops.’
    • ‘For example, peas and beans grown one year produce nitrogen that can be used to good advantage by other vegetables the following year.’
  • 3North American informal [with negative] A very small amount or nothing at all of something (used emphatically)

    ‘there is not a single bean of substance in the report’
    • ‘There really isn't much to recycle in the ordinary light bulb, even the combination of glass and metal doesn't amount to beans.’
    • ‘When it comes to small businesses, the net profit doesn't mean beans because the seller is doing everything possible to keep this number low to avoid taxes.’
    • ‘I had heard of gout, but I didn’t know beans about it.’
    • ‘Having the world's best beans doesn't mean beans unless they are roasted correctly.’
    • ‘Moravia that took her in and gave her a diploma as a social worker, even though she didn’t know beans about social work, or much else, for that matter.’
    1. 3.1Used in reference to money.
      ‘he didn't have a bean’
      • ‘I personally wouldn't spend a bean on Africa and nor would I vote for a party which made it a main plank of its manifesto.’
      • ‘Rumour has it he never spent a bean in his life.’
      • ‘I don't think Selina would even bid one bean for me.’
      • ‘Lio and Tracy have just spent their entire savings buying their first house and don't have a bean to spend on décor.’
      • ‘I have not one bean to my name after the UK jaunt.’
  • 4informal, dated A person's head, especially when regarded as a source of common sense.

    ‘this morning the old bean seems to be functioning in a slow way’
    • ‘Every time you make a decision, take any action on your own responsibility, give and order or use your bean, you are preparing yourself for greater opportunities.’
    • ‘Why doesn't Foley use his bean and draft legislation prohibiting tornadoes from entering or coming near to trailer parks?’
    • ‘You gotta use your bean to get this right so, as they say in the military, listen up.’
    head, skull, cranium
    View synonyms


[WITH OBJECT]North American
  • Hit (someone) on the head.

    ‘she picked up a rock and beaned him on the forehead’
    • ‘About a week later, Passeau, while warming up before a game, and after enduring a torrent of abuse from Durocher, suddenly wheeled and fired the ball into the Dodger dugout, nearly beaning the Brooklyn manager.’
    • ‘I had a very strong urge to bean her with a rock, because underneath the pier is littered with big ones, but I resisted.’
    • ‘In today's Boston Globe, there's a discussion with noted sports psychologist Harvey Dorfman, on why he thinks Matt Clement will successfully return to the mound after being beaned in the head by a line drive.’
    • ‘They're still waiting, in part because his 1998 season was ruined when he was beaned at midseason, and then he struggled with his confidence.’
    • ‘Didn't see anything like that, though I was almost beaned by a falling pinecone.’
    • ‘Not two weeks ago I literally bumped into her at yoga: our mats were about twelve inches apart and we almost beaned each other rolling down out of supta konasana simultaneously.’
    • ‘They meet after Tom beans Sarah in the head with a football.’
    • ‘I fell on some poor girl in the audience and beaned her in the head with my guitar.’
    • ‘My fiancee - civilized, gentle soul - once beaned a squirrel with an ice cube to keep the varmint from stripping her sunflowers bare.’
    • ‘The only positive aspect was that, short of being beaned by an errant golf ball, it looked as though I would survive the game without an injury for once.’
    • ‘In 1939, York was beaned twice, but according to Baseball Hall of Fame records in neither instance was it in a game played in Washington.’
    • ‘That felt better until a bunch of 12-year-olds started beaning me in the head with their tubes.’
    • ‘I picked up the ball and pitched as hard as I could, beaning her square in the forehead.’
    • ‘Life has a way of throwing curve balls and John [Hager] got beaned by one when he acquired polio as an adult and lost the use of his legs.’
    • ‘She hadn't been beaned in the head with anything either.’
    • ‘Outfielder Joe Medwick, another Hall of Famer who played for the Cardinals and Brooklyn Dodgers, was never quite as fearsome a hitter after being beaned in 1940.’
    • ‘During the fifth inning though she was beaned by the ball while the opponent was at bat.’
    • ‘In case you've lost your memory after being beaned in the head during a game of quidditch, the long-awaited sixth Harry Potter novel will be released next Friday at midnight.’
    • ‘He grabbed her wrists and pulled her in to kiss the place where he had beaned her and leaned her head back while faking a grimace.’
    • ‘Coincidentally or not, he was beaned the day after his record-setting production of 18 total bases by Clem Labine of the Dodgers.’


  • full of beans

    • informal Lively; in high spirits.

      ‘she was laughing and shouting and generally full of beans’
      • ‘I slept better that night than I had for years, and I awoke uncharacteristically clear headed and full of beans.’
      • ‘I bought a huge box of cereal for the office yesterday morning, and have been snacking on nuts and fruit all day for the last two days, rather than the usual chocolate and biscuits, and already I feel full of beans, and not at all sleepy.’
      • ‘Paddy was full of beans and looking forward to the aid work.’
      • ‘He's back to being full of beans today, but I'm not.’
      • ‘It's great to see her running around and full of beans.’
      • ‘He's pretty full of beans, and Jager can't understand why she can't play with him (her favorite move is to charge at him and bowl him over, even though he is twice the size of her).’
      • ‘When I last spoke to her yesterday she was full of beans, very cheerful and chirpy, so I deduce from that that all was going well.’
      • ‘The kid needs to go back to childcare - he is full of beans and needs some other kid equally full of beans to run him round.’
      • ‘Like the 1954 musical of the same name, Brigadoon is full of beans, curious colours and interesting ideas, but its fragmentary structures, silly sing-song numbers and conspicuously cheap backdrops tarnish its good intentions.’
      • ‘Having tapered his training down from over 100 miles a week to a mere 70 in preparation for the 100K Home International in Edinburgh, he was full of beans and won for the third time in his career.’
      • ‘She said Jack defied the ‘terrible two ‘cliché, and had been full of beans for some months now.’
      • ‘Driver Murugan is there at the appointed time. I have risen early again, but today I'm neither bright nor full of beans, unlike yesterday.’
      • ‘They were lovely kids: bright, intelligent and full of beans.’
      • ‘I had a very short nap, woke, leapt out of bed full of beans and sprightly as a 40-year old.’
      • ‘‘We often see it happening, especially with pups that are maybe three to four months old who are agile and full of beans,’ he said.’
      • ‘Because when I was taking lots of them I was all chatty and hyper and full of beans, and withdrawal is supposed to have equal and opposite effects.’
      • ‘Chirpy, smiley, full of beans - these are just some of the words which do not describe first-time quarter-finalist David Gray.’
      • ‘Now he's back up to normal weight, looks very healthy and is full of beans.’
      • ‘Mr Gardner added: ‘Now he's full of beans, great with kids and loves running about all over the place.’’
      • ‘So she was full of beans - she is a right little dynamo at the moment and goes to Rainbows as well as school.’
      cheerful, happy, cheery, good-humoured, jovial, merry, sunny, bright, joyful, light-hearted, in high spirits, in good spirits, sparkling, bubbly, exuberant, effervescent, ebullient, breezy, airy, lively, vivacious, full of life, sprightly, jaunty
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  • know how many beans make five

    • informal Be sensible and intelligent.

      ‘Emily certainly knew how many beans made five’
      • ‘Because it is a cat and knows how many beans make five.’
      • ‘He could have made a good living as a buyer for a supermarket as they also know how many beans make five - million or billion, that is.’
      • ‘PETER PEACOCK, the Scottish Education Minister, knows how many beans make five, can rattle through the three Rs and gives the impression of a man who doesn't leave an i without a dot, or a t uncrossed.’
      • ‘I have no idea if the chapter is good or not; I do know that the book's Exchange chapter was written by Jim McBee, who knows how many beans make five.’
      • ‘If you're bursting with fresh ideas, can't wait to live, breathe, and eat fresh soups, sauces etc., and can tell celery from celeriac, know how many beans make five, we'd love to hear from you.’
      • ‘We can even buy Private Eye and indulge its falsely comforting view of a man who is too dumb to know how many beans make five.’
      • ‘‘Well, Louise knows how many beans make five alright, but it's the cable companies’ money we are trying to protect,’ Lewis pointed out. ‘Surely they have the motivation to tell the repairers to install Chamelon?’’
      • ‘‘Oh, you look the proper sort of chap to sell cows,’ said the man; ‘I wonder if you know how many beans make five.’’
      • ‘Meticulous Virgo rises, a sign which knows how many beans make five, master-minding everything from the logistics of regional auditions to the carefully co-ordinated packaging of a multi - media brand.’
      perceptive, discerning, percipient, perspicacious, penetrative, piercing, penetrating, discriminating, sensitive, incisive, keen, keen-witted, acute, sharp-witted, quick, quick-witted, clever, shrewd, astute, intelligent, intuitive, bright, agile, nimble, nimble-witted, alert, quick off the mark, ready, apt, fine, finely honed, rapier-like, probing, searching, insightful, knowing
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  • old bean

    • dated, informal A friendly form of address to a man.

      ‘great to see you, old bean!’
      • ‘Nice to see you thinking outside the box, old bean.’
      • ‘Now that you mention it, Tristan old bean, it looks somewhat unique.’
      • ‘Jolly good swipe there old bean, don't mind at all that you took a chunk of my skin off with your hurley stick.’
      • ‘But when you remember you're hundreds of feet up in a great chunk of Victorian genius, you doff your hat and remember your place, old bean.’
      • ‘You had quite a lot of sherry old bean, and as you got up to leave you mistook the window for a door.’
      • ‘Boris old bean, don't take any notice of what Howard says; you'll be there long after he has gone.’
      • ‘The Duke's a very wise old bean, and his theory is that his better half is regarded as some kind of Ju Ju object.’
      • ‘I'm sorry, old bean, I'm just not going to accept those states as even proto-Socialist or pseudo-Marxian.’
      • ‘I always think of him saying something like ‘you simply have to, old bean, you simply have to!’’
      • ‘Sorry old bean, but I'm not up for ‘here are 50 questions for you to answer or explain why not’.’
      • ‘Nice try old bean, but you two won't escape me this time!’
      man, my friend
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Old English bēan, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch boon and German Bohne.