A beam is a structural element that primarily resists loads applied laterally to the beam's axis. Its mode of deflection is primarily by bending. The loads applied to the beam result in reaction forces at the beam's support points. The total effect of all the forces acting on the beam is to produce shear forces and bending moments within the beam, that in turn induce internal stresses, strains and deflections of the beam. Beams are characterized by their manner of support, profile (shape of cross-section), length, and their material.
Beams are traditionally descriptions of building or civil engineering structural elements, but any structures such as automotive automobile frames, aircraft components, machine frames, and other mechanical or structural systems contain beam structures that are designed to carry lateral loads are analyzed in a similar fashion.