One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
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
- ‘After numerous trips and hours of staring at the water and surrounding reeds, I still had not seen the kingfisher.’
- ‘Wisteria, weeping willows and reeds are mirrored in the calm of the pond.’
- ‘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.’
- ‘It was filled with low bushes, dead grass, reeds, and shallow black water.’
- ‘Sometimes, the nests are also built on the ground among reeds.’
- ‘He was especially drawn to the movement of taller plants, reeds and grasses.’
- ‘I even noticed a juvenile white-crowned sparrow in the reeds along the water, newly arrived on its wintering grounds.’
- ‘The initial housing is usually made out of light reed matting.’
- ‘Suddenly there was a loud hissing sound and thrashing of water from behind the reeds.’
- ‘Avoid docking or beaching where plants such as reeds, grasses and mangroves are located.’
- ‘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.’
- ‘Bending down gracefully, she snapped a thick reed from the ground, and tied it around her mass of curly hair.’
- ‘Aquatic plants come in many forms, from relatively simple multi-cellular algae to reeds and water lilies.’
- ‘Water lilies, reeds and sometimes, on hot days and nights, mists articulate the change between the heavily trafficked street and the park.’
- ‘Two identical white reed Victorian garden chairs with high round arching backs stood ready.’
- ‘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 sitting together beside a pool of water, surrounded by reeds and trailing plants.’
- ‘The common reed is a tall perennial grass found in marshes and along river and lake edges.’
- ‘The soft pad of papyrus reed sandals made me turn around.’
- ‘We canoed across the lake, through the water reeds which the Finns make into small pipes.’
- ‘Look again for flooded areas, especially where long grasses and reeds lie over the water's surface.’
- ‘They were meant to imitate reed matting on the walls.’
- ‘Edible reeds, rushes and grasses can be incorporated into both shallow and deep ponds, providing additional food for humans and wildlife.’
- 1.1 Used in names of plants similar to the reed and growing in wet habitats, e.g. bur reed.
- 1.2often as modifier Reeds growing in a mass or used as material, especially for making thatch or household items.‘a reed curtain’‘clumps of reed and grass’
stem, shoot, trunk, stock, cane, bine, bent, haulm, strawView synonyms
- ‘Later, the indentations were made with a reed stylus.’
- ‘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.’
- ‘In the north, walls are made of millet stalks or reeds, and roofs are typically corrugated tin.’
- ‘From the riverbanks reeds are harvested for hut building and thatching.’
- ‘Here we've got some reeds as well, which are mainly used for thatching the roofs.’
- ‘The Ma'dan live in houses built of reeds, with reed mats for floors.’
- ‘Traditional Hutu houses are huts made from wood, reeds, and straw and are shaped like beehives.’
- ‘Traditional huts were made from reeds and canes.’
- ‘Another yellow robe was hanging from the curtain string, and on the bed was a reed mat.’
- ‘He followed Alia to where she had deposited the pile pf poles, curtains, blanket, quilt, and the reed pad.’
- ‘A single candle and a carefully assembled bundle of flowers and reeds, held together by a violet snow globe, made up the centerpiece.’
- ‘On the far side, lit by flickering reed torches, we were confronted by a large and completely silent crowd.’
- ‘Thatch would have been gathered from reeds and rushes on the shore and used for the roof of the main castle.’
- ‘Several big rolls of reed matting, which must be building materials, are propped up against the walls of the central structure.’
- ‘Traditional Tutsi houses were huts of wood, reeds, and straw shaped like beehives.’
- ‘Using a reed pen and some ink I quickly got the hang of it.’
- ‘South walls are formed of large sliding floor-to-ceiling windows with, outside them, folding panels of local reeds in aluminium frames.’
- ‘He looked like a commoner, with reed sandals and a plain, pleated kilt wrapped around his waist.’
- ‘A second, smaller robe, also with tassels, is carried rolled up in a reed scroll called a ‘suitcase’ in English.’
- ‘Walls are made by the owners weaving together local reeds and leaves, which can easily be replaced if swept away.’
- 1.3British The tall, thin, straight stalk of a reed, used especially as material for thatching.
- ‘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.’
- ‘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).’
- ‘Nigerians build simple rectangular or cylindrical houses of reed, mud brick, or cinder block.’
- ‘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.’
- 1.4literary A rustic musical pipe made from a reed or from straw.
- ‘A single, consistent bar on a hollow reed, just musical enough to be considered a note.’
- 1.5literary An arrow.
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, that vibrates in a current of air to produce the sound of various musical instruments, as in the mouthpiece of a clarinet or oboe, at the base of some organ pipes, and as part of a set in the accordion and harmonica.
- ‘Here I must admit that for bassoon reeds, a decade or so of advanced macramé at night school is a sound investment.’
- ‘She had just attached the reed to the mouth piece when she realized, ‘Oh my gosh!’’
- ‘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 hoped no one noticed her bright cheeks as she attached the reed to her mouth piece.’
- ‘She finished assembling Roxanne and fastened the reed to the mouthpiece.’
- ‘One refreshing shower of raindrops between rehearsal and concert and the oboe reed's hardness and pitch-stability may well be altered.’
- ‘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.’
- ‘In the harmonium the action of the bellows blows air past the reeds.’
- ‘Coren was sucking on a saxophone reed, listening to them talk.’
- ‘One teenager checks the reed of his clarinet and practises phrasing.’
- ‘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.’
- ‘Of course, no oboe reeds were available locally, so I bought the oboe without having any idea whether or not it could play.’
- ‘It employs a single reed and has a very pure tone with no vibrato although this can be induced by use of the bellows.’
- ‘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 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.’
- ‘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.’
- ‘The physical process of making sound with a reed is clearly not the same as it is for a transverse flute.’
- ‘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.’
- ‘Feeling melancholy, he fashioned the cut reeds into the musical instrument that bears his name - the pan-pipe.’
- 3.1 A wind instrument played with a reed.
- ‘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.’
- ‘Youssou N'Dour worked with Fathy Salama, who arranged and conducted his orchestral group of violins, reeds, flutes, and percussion.’
- ‘Al is a rare multi-instrumentalist, able to alternate on reeds and trumpet with equal artistry over an evening.’
- ‘The combination of percussion and reeds, and the frenzied pace of some of the pieces, creates some uncanny parallels with Moroccan trance music.’
- ‘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.’
- 3.2 An organ stop with reed pipes.
4An electrical contact used in a magnetically operated switch or 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 semicylindrical adjacent moldings like reeds laid together.
- ‘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.’
- ‘In order to give the stucco a hold on a wooden wall or ceiling reeds are nailed to the surface beforehand, providing a ‘key’.’
Old English hrēod, of West Germanic origin; related to Dutch riet and German Ried.
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