1 In marble play: a cheap marble. Cf bead line n
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2 A squirt of tobacco juice.
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3 The bubbles that form when whiskey is shaken, often used to judge its strength or quality. [OED2 bead n. 4.b “A bubble of foam; spec. a bubble in spirits, sparkling wines, etc.; the foam or head upon certain beverages”; 1753→] Cf bead v, beading oil n
1853 Working Farmer 5.103, The Oil of Almonds is much used by distillers, and sometimes to give to alcohol the appearance of greater strength. All distilled liquors bear a bubble when shaken, technically called the bead, and if the liquor is at proof this bead will remain on the surface for a short time, but if below proof, the bead disappears immediately. A slight addition of oil of almonds, even less than a cubic inch, to 100 gallons of whiskey, will cause it to bear a bead when seven per cent below proof. 1881 New Remedies 10.301, For the purpose of giving to liquor the peculiar property of holding a bead or bubbles, a so-called bead-oil is used. 1917 DN 4.408 wNC, KY, Bead. . . In moonshine whiskey, iridescent bubbles that form when the liquor is shaken up. 1936 Brainerd Daily Dispatch (MN) 16 Oct 5/3, [Advt: ] Old-timers always shook up the bottle, noticed the amount of “bead” (bubbles) and watched how long the “bead” lasted. . . Pick your whiskey by the “bead test.” That’s the way we want you to buy Old Mr. Boston Straight Whiskey. [DARE Ed: This advt, and variants of it, appeared throughout the country.] 1937 El Paso Herald–Post (TX) 10 Sept 18/7, [Advt: ] Shaking a bottle of whiskey and watching to see how long the beads remain is a simple, but inadequate test of quality. The Best of Scotch and Irish whiskies will not produce a good bead. [DARE Ed: Advt of a local liquor store.] 1949 AmSp 24.8 KY [Argot of the moonshiner], Bead. . . The little bubbles which form along the miniscus [sic] of liquor when shaken in a bottle. The proof and quality of the liquor are judged by experienced moonshiners with great accuracy. ‘This stuff holds a good bead.’ 1964 Faulkner Hamlet 49 MS, He shook the bottle and raised it to the light as though testing the bead. 1969 DARE Tape GA72, The bead—which is the bubble, when you shake it—if the bead flies up there coarse it’s high proof; if it’s very fine, it’s low proof. 1972 Foxfire Book 337 nGA, This helps . . the mixture begin working, and helps the final product hold a good bead.
4 In phr put the bead on: see quot. Cf bee n1 2
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