• Bed


    • UK IPA: /bɛd/
    • AU IPA: /bed/
    • Rhymes: -ɛd


    From Middle English bed, bedde, from Old English bedd ("bed, couch, resting-place; garden-bed, plot"), from Proto-Germanic *badją ("bed"), perhaps (if originally "dug sleeping-place") from Proto-Indo-European *bʰedʰ- ("to dig"). Cognate with Scots bed, bede ("bed"), North Frisian baad, beed ("bed"), West Frisian bêd ("bed"), Low German Bedd, Dutch bed ("bed"), German Bett ("bed"), Danish bed, Swedish bädd ("bed"), Icelandic beður ("bed"), and (through Proto-Indo-European, if the above etymology is correct) with Ancient Greek βοθυρος (bothuros, "pit"), Latin fossa ("ditch"), Latvian bedre ("hole"), Welsh bedd ("grave"), Breton bez ("grave"); and probably also Russian бодать (bodat').

    The traditional etymology as a derivation from the Proto-Indo-European verb for 'to dig' has been doubted, arguing that there are (allegedly) few, if any, cultures known to dig out beds, rather than to build "pads". However, what the Germanic word originally referred to is not known with precision, and it notably has the additional meaning "flower-bed, plot" (preserved in English and several other modern Germanic languages, but present in older stages as well; in Modern German, two separate words exist as the result of a paradigm split: Bett, specialised to the meaning "(human) sleeping-place", is a back-formation from the Old High German genitive bettes, while Beet, specialised to the meaning "flower-bed, garden plot", continues the Old High German nominative/accusative beti), which fits the traditional derivation. Perhaps the word originally referred to dug sleeping-places of animals, compare (with the inverse semantic development) lair from Old English leġer ("couch, bed").

    Full definition of bed



    (plural beds)
    1. A piece of furniture, usually flat and soft, to sleep on.My cat often sleeps on my bed.I keep a glass of water next to my bed when I sleep.
    2. (uncountable, usually after a preposition) Sleep; rest; getting to sleep.He's been afraid of bed since he saw the scary film.
    3. (usually after a preposition) One's place of sleep or rest.Go to bed!I had breakfast in bed this morning.
    4. (usually after a preposition) The time for going to sleep or resting in bed.I read until bed.
    5. (uncountable) Time spent in a bed.
      • 1903, Thomas Stretch Dowse, Lectures on massage and electricity in the treatment of disease, I am quite sure that too much bed, if not too much sleep, is prejudicial, though a certain amount is absolutely necessary.
      • 1907, Jabez Spencer Balfour, My prison life, Some prisoners, indeed, are always up before the bell rings — such was my practice — they prefer to grope about in the dark to tossing about in the utter weariness of too much bed.
      • 1972, James Verney Cable, Principles of medicine: an integrated textbook for nurses, This condition is one of the dangers of "too much bed". The nurse should inspect the legs of each patient daily
    6. A prepared spot to spend the night in, as in camping bed.He made a bed to sleep in for the night from hay and a blanket.
    7. A garden plot, as in "bed of roses".We added a new rosebush to our rose bed.
      • 1907, w, The Younger Set Chapter 5, Breezes blowing from beds of iris quickened her breath with their perfume ; she saw the tufted lilacs sway in the wind, and the streamers of rose-tinted wistaria swinging, all a-glisten with golden bees ; … .
    8. The bottom of a lake or other body of water. from later 16th c.sea bed, river bed, lake bedThere's a lot of trash on the bed of the river.
    9. An area where a large number of oysters, mussels, or other sessile shellfish is found.Oysters are farmed from their beds.
    10. A flat surface or layer on which something else is to be placed.The meats and cheeses lay on a bed of lettuce.
    11. A foundation or supporting surface formed of a fluid.A bed of concrete makes a strong subsurface for an asphalt parking lot.
    12. The platform of a truck, trailer, railcar, or other vehicle that supports the load to be hauled.The parcels were thrown onto the truck bed before transportation.
    13. A deposit of ore, coal etc.
    14. (geology) the smallest division of a geologic formation or stratigraphic rock series marked by well-defined divisional planes (bedding planes) separating it from layers above and below
    15. A shaped piece of timber to hold a cask clear of a ship’s floor; a pallet.
    16. A piece of music, normally instrumental, over which a Radio DJ talks.
    17. (uncountable) Sexual activity.Too much bed, not enough rest.Is he good in bed?
    18. (figurative) marriage
      • ClarendonGeorge, the eldest son of his second bed
    19. (masonry) The horizontal surface of a building stone.the upper and lower beds
    20. (masonry) A course of stone or brick in a wall.
    21. (masonry) The lower surface of a brick, slate, or tile.
    22. The superficial earthwork, or ballast, of a railroad.
    23. (printing, dated) The flat part of the press, on which the form is laid.

    Usage notes

    Sense 1. To prepare a bed is usually to "make" the bed, or US, Southern to "spread" the bed, the verb spread probably having been developed from bedspread.

    Like many nouns denoting places where people spend time, bed requires no article after certain prepositions: hence in bed ("lying in a bed"), go to bed ("get into a bed"), and so on. The forms in a bed, etc. do exist, but tend to imply mere presence in the bed, without it being for the purpose of sleep.

    See also


    1. To go to a bed.
    2. To put oneself to sleep.
    3. (transitive) To place in a bed.
    4. (transitive) To furnish with a bed or bedding.
    5. To settle, as machinery.
    6. (transitive) To set in a soft matrix, as paving stones in sand, or tiles in cement.
    7. (transitive) To set out (plants) in a garden bed.
    8. (transitive) To lay or put in any hollow place, or place of rest and security, surrounded or enclosed; to embed.
      • WordsworthAmong all chains or clusters of mountains where large bodies of still water are bedded.
    9. (transitive) To dress or prepare the surface of (stone) so it can serve as a bed.
    10. (transitive) To lay flat; to lay in order; to place in a horizontal or recumbent position.
      • Shakespearebedded hair
    11. (transitive, slang) To have sexual intercourse with. from early 14th c.


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