Definition of reed in English:

reed

noun

  • 1A tall, slender-leaved plant of the grass family, which grows in water or on marshy ground.

    Genera Phragmites and Arundo, family Gramineae: several species, in particular the common (or Norfolk) reed (P. australis), which is used for thatching

    • ‘I lay there a long time amongst the grasses and reeds, struggling to keep my head above the water, and trying not to be seen as the enemy searched for me.’
    • ‘Because we had long lengths of wide ditches where tall reeds grew in proliferation, we used to cut them using long-polled scythes and tie the stems into bundles.’
    • ‘Avoid docking or beaching where plants such as reeds, grasses and mangroves are located.’
    • ‘The soft pad of papyrus reed sandals made me turn around.’
    • ‘Aquatic plants come in many forms, from relatively simple multi-cellular algae to reeds and water lilies.’
    • ‘Bending down gracefully, she snapped a thick reed from the ground, and tied it around her mass of curly hair.’
    • ‘Look again for flooded areas, especially where long grasses and reeds lie over the water's surface.’
    • ‘Water lilies, reeds and sometimes, on hot days and nights, mists articulate the change between the heavily trafficked street and the park.’
    • ‘We canoed across the lake, through the water reeds which the Finns make into small pipes.’
    • ‘The common reed is a tall perennial grass found in marshes and along river and lake edges.’
    • ‘Edible reeds, rushes and grasses can be incorporated into both shallow and deep ponds, providing additional food for humans and wildlife.’
    • ‘Two identical white reed Victorian garden chairs with high round arching backs stood ready.’
    • ‘Suddenly there was a loud hissing sound and thrashing of water from behind the reeds.’
    • ‘The initial housing is usually made out of light reed matting.’
    • ‘Wisteria, weeping willows and reeds are mirrored in the calm of the pond.’
    • ‘The foothills themselves were coated in long, green grass with reeds growing at the riverbanks.’
    • ‘There are also several contributions on the sulphur-analog selenium, and on non-crop plant species, such as the common reed, algae and mosses.’
    • ‘They were meant to imitate reed matting on the walls.’
    • ‘It was filled with low bushes, dead grass, reeds, and shallow black water.’
    • ‘After numerous trips and hours of staring at the water and surrounding reeds, I still had not seen the kingfisher.’
    • ‘I even noticed a juvenile white-crowned sparrow in the reeds along the water, newly arrived on its wintering grounds.’
    • ‘He was especially drawn to the movement of taller plants, reeds and grasses.’
    • ‘Sometimes, the nests are also built on the ground among reeds.’
    • ‘They were sitting together beside a pool of water, surrounded by reeds and trailing plants.’
    1. 1.1 Used in names of plants similar to the reed and growing in wet habitats, e.g. bur reed.
    2. 1.2 A tall straight stalk of a reed plant, used especially as a material in making thatch or household items.
      ‘a harvest of thatching reeds’
      mass noun, as modifier ‘a reed curtain’
      • ‘In the north, walls are made of millet stalks or reeds, and roofs are typically corrugated tin.’
      • ‘The Ma'dan live in houses built of reeds, with reed mats for floors.’
      • ‘Walls are made by the owners weaving together local reeds and leaves, which can easily be replaced if swept away.’
      • ‘Another yellow robe was hanging from the curtain string, and on the bed was a reed mat.’
      • ‘Later, the indentations were made with a reed stylus.’
      • ‘Thatch would have been gathered from reeds and rushes on the shore and used for the roof of the main castle.’
      • ‘He followed Alia to where she had deposited the pile pf poles, curtains, blanket, quilt, and the reed pad.’
      • ‘Here we've got some reeds as well, which are mainly used for thatching the roofs.’
      • ‘Traditional Tutsi houses were huts of wood, reeds, and straw shaped like beehives.’
      • ‘A single candle and a carefully assembled bundle of flowers and reeds, held together by a violet snow globe, made up the centerpiece.’
      • ‘From the riverbanks reeds are harvested for hut building and thatching.’
      • ‘South walls are formed of large sliding floor-to-ceiling windows with, outside them, folding panels of local reeds in aluminium frames.’
      • ‘Traditional huts were made from reeds and canes.’
      • ‘He looked like a commoner, with reed sandals and a plain, pleated kilt wrapped around his waist.’
      • ‘Using a reed pen and some ink I quickly got the hang of it.’
      • ‘To portray the harsher reality produced by the war, Beckmann switched from the soft pencil he had previously used to a reed pen, giving him a harder, more precise line.’
      • ‘Traditional Hutu houses are huts made from wood, reeds, and straw and are shaped like beehives.’
      • ‘A second, smaller robe, also with tassels, is carried rolled up in a reed scroll called a ‘suitcase’ in English.’
      • ‘On the far side, lit by flickering reed torches, we were confronted by a large and completely silent crowd.’
      • ‘Several big rolls of reed matting, which must be building materials, are propped up against the walls of the central structure.’
      stem, shoot, trunk, stock, cane, bine, bent, haulm, straw
      View synonyms
    3. 1.3British mass noun Straw used for thatching.
      • ‘People making a living off the fens catching eels and harvesting marsh reed for thatching were a tad upset and started a guerilla war against the engineers who were building the drains.’
      • ‘The facade is of Corrib stone and the roof is thatched with Turkish reed to a minimum depth of 14 inches - the thatching has a lifetime of more than 15 years.’
      • ‘Just after the war I learned to thatch corn stacks using reeds with long stems.’
      • ‘I believe I have mentioned before that we thatched the stacks with reeds cut from the ditches using a long pole scythe.’
      • ‘These reeds which are about 3, 4 metres high some of them are used for thatching the roofs.’
      • ‘Nigerians build simple rectangular or cylindrical houses of reed, mud brick, or cinder block.’
      • ‘This would give a warm, dry and snug shelter for the pigs or poultry which some people would thatch using reeds or perhaps ling (heather).’
    4. 1.4literary A rustic musical pipe made from a reed or from straw.
      ‘as if thy waves had only heard the shepherd's reed’
      • ‘A single, consistent bar on a hollow reed, just musical enough to be considered a note.’
    5. 1.5literary An arrow.
      arrow, quarrel, dart, shaft, missile, projectile
      View synonyms
  • 2A weak or impressionable person.

    ‘the jurors were mere reeds in the wind’
    • ‘He obviously cannot control his own people and became a weak reed in the process.’
  • 3A piece of thin cane or metal, sometimes doubled, which vibrates in a current of air to produce the sound of various musical instruments, as in the mouthpiece of a clarinet or oboe or at the base of some organ pipes.

    as modifier ‘a reed instrument’
    • ‘Initially this was not possible: his Symphonium of 1829 required lung power to supply the air to its metal reeds, with the player using keys to select the desired note.’
    • ‘One refreshing shower of raindrops between rehearsal and concert and the oboe reed's hardness and pitch-stability may well be altered.’
    • ‘Of course, no oboe reeds were available locally, so I bought the oboe without having any idea whether or not it could play.’
    • ‘She finished assembling Roxanne and fastened the reed to the mouthpiece.’
    • ‘One teenager checks the reed of his clarinet and practises phrasing.’
    • ‘Possibly a distant ancestor of the modern bassoon, the instrument had a space at one end which almost certainly held a reed which generated the sound.’
    • ‘The khaen is a collection of bamboo pipes of different lengths, each with a small hole for fingering and a metal reed, preferably of silver, all attached to a mouthpiece.’
    • ‘It employs a single reed and has a very pure tone with no vibrato although this can be induced by use of the bellows.’
    • ‘Wind instruments are tuned by adjustment to the length of tubing, using the tuning-slide on a brass instrument, the staple of the reed on an oboe, or the movable top joint of a flute, etc.’
    • ‘Digital processing morphs the clarinet's mournful tones into deep sinewave swoops, zooms in on the crackle of spit on the reed or squeezes out didgeridoo-like overtones.’
    • ‘She had just attached the reed to the mouth piece when she realized, ‘Oh my gosh!’’
    • ‘The physical process of making sound with a reed is clearly not the same as it is for a transverse flute.’
    • ‘If it has a mouthpiece or a reed, Al can produce sublime music on it, often switching effortlessly between trumpet, saxophone and clarinet on the same gig.’
    • ‘Coren was sucking on a saxophone reed, listening to them talk.’
    • ‘Here I must admit that for bassoon reeds, a decade or so of advanced macramé at night school is a sound investment.’
    • ‘In the harmonium the action of the bellows blows air past the reeds.’
    • ‘The finished bassoon reed can last for several weeks if not months.’
    • ‘I speak from experience when I say that a mouldy reed has neither the taste nor the sound of a clean reed.’
    • ‘Feeling melancholy, he fashioned the cut reeds into the musical instrument that bears his name - the pan-pipe.’
    • ‘She hoped no one noticed her bright cheeks as she attached the reed to her mouth piece.’
    1. 3.1 A wind instrument played with a reed.
      • ‘The combination of percussion and reeds, and the frenzied pace of some of the pieces, creates some uncanny parallels with Moroccan trance music.’
      • ‘Al is a rare multi-instrumentalist, able to alternate on reeds and trumpet with equal artistry over an evening.’
      • ‘The Beast isn't even an electronic record as such, as Michel records himself on guitar, drums, melodica, horns, reeds, keys, the list goes on.’
      • ‘For the next few days I worked on packing up snare drums, clarinets, reeds and so many other things.’
      • ‘Youssou N'Dour worked with Fathy Salama, who arranged and conducted his orchestral group of violins, reeds, flutes, and percussion.’
      • ‘In Saracenic armies, bands composed of reeds and pipes of various sorts played during combat to encourage their own troops and to show that the line remained unbroken.’
    2. 3.2 An organ stop with reed pipes.
  • 4An electrical contact used in a magnetically operated switch or relay.

    ‘the permanent magnet closes the reeds and contacts together’
    as modifier ‘a reed relay’
    • ‘By bouncing, the reed breaks an electrical circuit.’
  • 5A comblike implement (originally made from reed or cane) used by a weaver to separate the threads of the warp and correctly position the weft.

  • 6reedsA set of semi-cylindrical adjacent mouldings like reeds laid together.

    • ‘In order to give the stucco a hold on a wooden wall or ceiling reeds are nailed to the surface beforehand, providing a ‘key’.’
    • ‘One easily accounts for the 3 small sinkings on the Doric capital: they represented the strings that tied the original bundled reeds together to make them strong to bear great weight.’

Phrases

  • a broken reed

    • A weak or ineffectual person.

      ‘the superintendent of this building appears to be a broken reed’
      • ‘Because of all the changes it is obviously difficult to test the validity of these claims, but some of Wheelock's main supports are broken reeds to lean on.’
      • ‘By contrast, the Irish army that the king mobilized to support his cause turned out to be a broken reed.’
      • ‘It would only take one more attack on the US homeland for the President to become a scapegoat and his Office of Homeland Security a broken reed.’

Origin

Old English hrēod, of West Germanic origin; related to Dutch riet and German Ried.

Pronunciation

reed

/riːd/