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    bedpost (n.) — bey (n.)

    bedpost (n.)

    also bed-post, "post forming an angle of a bed frame," 1590s, from bed (n.) + post (n.1). Formerly they were made high to support a canopy and rods for a curtain.ETD bedpost (n.).2

    bedraggled (adj.)

    1727, past-participle adjective from bedraggle.ETD bedraggled (adj.).2

    bedraggle (v.)

    "to soil or wet by dragging in dirt or mud or from being rained upon," 1727, from be- + draggle "to drag or draw along damp ground or mud." Also in a similar sense were bedrabble (mid-15c.), bedaggle (1570s).ETD bedraggle (v.).2

    bed-rest (n.)

    by 1836 as "device for sitting up in bed;" by 1896 as "a resting in bed for recovery from injury or illness;" from bed (n.) + rest (n.).ETD bed-rest (n.).2

    bedridden (adj.)

    also bed-ridden, "confined to bed by age, infirmity, or sickness," mid-14c., from late Old English bæddrædæn "bedridden," adjective from bedreda "bedridden (man)," literally "bedrider," from bed + rida "rider" (see ride (v.)). Originally a noun, it became an adjective and acquired an -en on the analogy of past-participle adjectives from strong verbs such as ride.ETD bedridden (adj.).2

    bedrock (n.)

    also bed-rock, in geology, "solid rock lying under soil or gravel," 1850, from bed (n.) + rock (n.). Figurative use by 1869; as an adjective by 1881.ETD bedrock (n.).2

    bed-roll (n.)

    "bedding rolled up in a bundle," 1905, from bed (n.) + roll (n.). There is a citation of an identical word from 1650s in the sense "a list of women for sleeping with."ETD bed-roll (n.).2

    bedroom (n.)

    also bed-room, "room intended to contain a bed," 1610s, from bed (n.) + room (n.). Used by Shakespeare in a sense "sleeping space, room in a bed" (1580s). It replaced earlier bedchamber (late 14c.). Old English had bedbur, bedcofa. Slang bedroom eyes is attested from 1901.ETD bedroom (n.).2

    bedside (n.)

    "position by a bed," usually in reference to attendance on one confined in bed, mid-15c., bedsyde, from late 14c. as two words, beddes side, from genitive of bed (n.) + side (n.). Bedside manner is attested from 1848.ETD bedside (n.).2

    bed-sore (n.)

    "gangrene caused by anemia due to continued pressure," 1833, from bed (n.) + sore (n.). A kind of ulcer liable to afflict persons long confined in bed and unable to change position.ETD bed-sore (n.).2

    bedspread (n.)

    also bed-spread, "uppermost quilt or covering of a bed, generally ornamental," 1830, American English, from bed (n.) + spread (n.).ETD bedspread (n.).2

    bedstead (n.)

    "framework for supporting a bed," c. 1400, from bed (n.) + stead.ETD bedstead (n.).2

    bed-swerver (n.)

    "one false or unfaithful to a marriage bed," 1610s, from bed (n.) + agent noun from swerve (v.).ETD bed-swerver (n.).2

    bedtime (n.)

    also bed-time, "the usual hour of going to rest," early 13c., from bed (n.) + time (n.). Bed-time story is attested from 1867.ETD bedtime (n.).2

    bed-wetting (n.)

    "involuntary urination while sleeping," 1844, from bed (n.) + present participle of wet (v.). Related: Bed-wetter.ETD bed-wetting (n.).2

    bee (n.)

    stinging insect of the genus Apis, living in societies under a queen and producing wax and honey, Old English beo "bee," from Proto-Germanic *bion (source also of Old Norse by, Old High German bia, Middle Dutch bie), from PIE root *bhei- "bee."ETD bee (n.).2

    Used metaphorically for "busy worker" since 1530s. The sense of "meeting of neighbors to unite their labor for the benefit of one of their number" is by 1769, American English, probably is from comparison to the combined labor and social activity of the insect: Raising-bee (1814) for building construction; quilting bee (1824, see quilt (v.)); logging-bee for a log-rolling; paring-bee for preparing harvested apples; also hanging bee "a lynching"). It was extended to other collective situations (such as spelling bee, "contest between two or more for superiority in spelling," attested by 1809).ETD bee (n.).3

    To have a bee in (one's) bonnet (1825), of one who is harebrained or has an intense new notion or fancy, is said in Jamieson to be Scottish, perhaps from earlier expressions such as head full of bees (1510s), denoting mad mental activity.ETD bee (n.).4

    Beeb (n.)

    colloquial shortening of B.B.C., attested from 1967.ETD Beeb (n.).2

    beech (n.)

    type of large forest tree noted for its smooth, silvery bark and its mast, which serves as food for animals, Middle English beche, from Old English bece "beech," earlier boece, from Proto-Germanic *bokjon (source also of Old Norse bok, Dutch beuk, Flemish boek, Old High German buohha, German Buche, Middle Dutch boeke "beech"), from PIE root *bhago- "beech tree" (cognate with Greek phegos "oak," Latin fagus "beech;" see fagus). Formerly with adjectival form beechen. Also see book (n.).ETD beech (n.).2

    beef (v.)

    "to complain," slang, 1888, American English, from noun meaning "complaint" (1880s). The noun meaning "argument" is recorded from 1930s. The origin and signification of these are unclear; perhaps they trace to the common late 19c. complaint of soldiers about the quantity or quality of beef rations.ETD beef (v.).2

    beef (n.)

    c. 1300, "an ox, bull, or cow," also the flesh of one when killed, used as food, from Old French buef "ox; beef; ox hide" (11c., Modern French boeuf), from Latin bovem (nominative bos, genitive bovis) "ox, cow," from PIE root *gwou- "ox, bull, cow." The original plural in the animal sense was beeves.ETD beef (n.).2

    beefcake (n.)

    "display of male pulchritude" in movies or magazines, 1949, said to have been modeled on cheesecake, but there seems to have been an actual foodstuff called beefcake around this time. The word seems to be little used in that sense since the pulchritudinous meaning emerged.ETD beefcake (n.).2

    beef-eater (n.)

    also beefeater, c. 1600 as a general contemptuous term for a well-fed menial; specifically as "warder of the Tower of London" from 1670s; the notion is of "one who eats (another's) beef" (see eater, and compare Old English hlaf-æta "servant," literally "loaf-eater").ETD beef-eater (n.).2

    beefy (adj.)

    "brawny, fleshy and solid," 1743, from beef (n.) in colloquial extended sense "human muscle" + -y (2). Related: Beefiness.ETD beefy (adj.).2

    beefsteak (n.)

    also beef-steak, "steak or slice of beef, cut from the hind quarter, suitable for broiling or frying," 1711, from beef (n.) + steak.ETD beefsteak (n.).2

    beef up (v.)

    "add strength," 1941, from college slang, from beef (n.) in slang sense of "muscle-power" (1851).ETD beef up (v.).2

    beehive (n.)

    "habitation of bees," early 14c., from bee + hive (n.). Figurative of a busy place from 1610s. As the name of a hairstyle, attested from 1960 (the style itself said to have been popular from 1958). As the common name of a star cluster in the constellation Cancer, from 1840 (see Praesepe).ETD beehive (n.).2

    beek (v.)

    "to bask in the warmth" of something, early 13c., a northern and Scottish word of unknown origin; perhaps ultimately connected to bake (v.).ETD beek (v.).2

    bee-line (n.)

    also beeline, "straightest line between two points," 1830, American English, from bee + line (n.), in reference to the homing of bees in the field.ETD bee-line (n.).2

    The verbal phrase line bees is attested from 1827.ETD bee-line (n.).3


    Old English Belzebub, Philistine god worshipped at Ekron (II Kings i.2), from Latin, used in Vulgate for New Testament Greek beelzeboub, from Hebrew ba'al-z'bub "lord of the flies," from ba'al "lord" (see Baal) + z'bhubh "fly."ETD Beelzebub.2

    The deity is said to have been worshipped as having the power to drive away troublesome flies. By later Christian writers it was often taken as another name for "Satan," though Milton made him one of the fallen angels.ETD Beelzebub.3

    Baal being originally a title, it was applied by the Hebrews to neighboring divinities based on their attributes; other examples include Baal-berith "the covenant lord," god of the Shechemites; Baal-peor "lord of the opening," a god of Moab and Midian.ETD Beelzebub.4

    been (v.)

    past participle of be. Dismissive slang phrase been there, done that attested from 1994 (been there "had the experience," usually of something disreputable, is from 1880s).ETD been (v.).2

    beep (interj.)

    1927, imitative of automobile horns (originally of the sound of a certain type of automobile horn, one among several in the years after the klaxon horn was brought into use c. 1910). Used as a noun and verb by 1929. Related: Beeped; beeping.ETD beep (interj.).2

    beeper (n.)

    "device that emits beeps," 1946, agent noun from beep (v.).ETD beeper (n.).2

    beer (n.)

    alcoholic drink made from grain (generally barley), infused with hops and boiled and fermented, Middle English ber, from Old English beor "strong drink, beer, mead," cognate with Old Frisian biar, Middle Dutch and Dutch bier, Old High German bior, German Bier; a West Germanic word of much-disputed and ambiguous origin.ETD beer (n.).2

    It is probably a 6c. West Germanic monastic borrowing of Vulgar Latin biber "a drink, beverage" (from Latin infinitive bibere "to drink," from PIE root *po(i)- "to drink"). Another suggestion is that it comes from Proto-Germanic *beuwoz-, from *beuwo- "barley." The native Germanic word for the beverage was the one that yielded ale (q.v.). "The word occurs in OE., but its use is rare, except in poetry, and it seems to have become common only in the 16th c. as the name of a hopped malt liquor." [OED]ETD beer (n.).3

    They did have words for it, however. Greek brytos, used in reference to Thracian or Phrygian brews, was related to Old English breowan "brew;" Latin zythum is from Greek zythos, first used of Egyptian beer and treated as an Egyptian word but perhaps truly Greek and related to zymē "leaven."ETD beer (n.).4

    Spanish cerveza is from Latin cervesia "beer." Old Church Slavonic pivo, source of the general Slavic word for "beer," is originally "a drink" (compare Old Church Slavonic piti "drink"). French bière is a 16c. borrowing from German. U.S. slang beer goggles, through which every potential romantic partner looks desirable, is from 1986.ETD beer (n.).5

    beery (adj.)

    "resembling or caused by beer; partially drunk," 1837, from beer (n.) + -y (2). Related: Beerily; beeriness.ETD beery (adj.).2

    bee's knees (n.)

    1923, a survivor of a fad around this year for slang terms denoting "excellence" and based on animal anatomy. Also existed in the more ribald form bee's nuts. Other versions that lasted through the century are cat's whiskers (1923), cat's pajamas, cat's meow. More obscure examples are canary's tusks, cat's nuts and flea's eyebrows. The fad still had a heartbeat in Britain at the end of the century, as attested by the appearance of dog's bollocks in 1989. Bee's knee was used as far back as 1797 for "something insignificant."ETD bee's knees (n.).2

    beestings (n.)

    "colostrum," late Old English bysting, from beost "first milk of a cow after calving," a general West Germanic word (cognates: Old High German biost, German Biest, Middle Dutch and Dutch biest, North Frisian bjast) of unknown origin.ETD beestings (n.).2

    bee-sting (n.)

    "the sting of a bee," 1680s, from bee + sting (n.). Related: Bee-stung, which, of lips, is attested by 1845.ETD bee-sting (n.).2

    beeswax (n.)

    also bees-wax, "wax secreted by bees and used in making the cells of their hives," 1670s, from genitive of bee + wax (n.). As a jocular alteration of business (usually in an injunction to someone to mind his own) attested from 1934 in Lower East Side slang as reproduced in Henry Roth's "Call It Sleep."ETD beeswax (n.).2

    beet (n.)

    plant growing wild in northern Europe, cultivated for use of its succulent root as food and for sugar extraction, Old English bete "beet, beetroot," from Latin beta, which is said to be of Celtic origin. Common in Old English, then lost till c. 1400. Still usually spoken of in plural in U.S. A general West Germanic borrowing, cognates: Old Frisian bete, Middle Dutch bete, Old High German bieza, German Beete.ETD beet (n.).2

    beetle (n.1)

    insect of the order Coleoptera, Middle English bitil, from Old English bitela "beetle," apparently originally meaning "little biter, biting insect," from bitel "biting," from Proto-Germanic *bitan, from PIE root *bheid- "to split," with derivatives in Germanic referring to biting.ETD beetle (n.1).2

    By normal evolution it would be *bittle, but it seems to have been influenced by beetle (n.2). Sometimes applied to soft insects, as black beetle, an old name for the cockroach. As a nickname for the original Volkswagen car, 1946, translating German Käfer.ETD beetle (n.1).3

    beetle (v.)

    "project, overhang," apparently a Shakespearean back-formation (in "Hamlet," 1602) from beetle-browed, from Middle English bitelbrouwed "grim-browed, sullen" (mid-14c.), from bitel "sharp-edged, sharp" (c. 1200), probably a compound from Old English *bitol "biting, sharp" (related to bite (v.)), + brow, which in Middle English meant "eyebrow," not "forehead." The meaning "to overhang dangerously" (of cliffs, etc.) is attested from c. 1600. Related: Beetled; beetling.ETD beetle (v.).2

    beetle (n.2)

    "heavy wooden mallet used to drive wedges, pack earth, etc.," Middle English betel, from Old English bietl "mallet, hammer," from Proto-Germanic *bautilo-z, from *bautan "to beat," from PIE root *bhau- "to strike."ETD beetle (n.2).2

    beetle-browed (adj.)

    mid-14c.; see beetle (v.).ETD beetle-browed (adj.).2

    beet-root (n.)

    "the root of the beet plant," 1570s, from beet (n.) + root (n.).ETD beet-root (n.).2

    beeves (n.)

    original plural of beef (n.) in the animal sense (compare boevz, plural of Old French buef), now only in restricted use.ETD beeves (n.).2

    befall (v.)

    Old English befeallan "to deprive of; fall to, occur to, be assigned to," from be- "by, about" + feallan (see fall (v.)). Compare Old Frisian bifalla, Old Saxon, Old High German bifallan, German befallen. Intransitive sense of "to happen, come to pass" is from c. 1300. Related: Befell; befalling.ETD befall (v.).2

    befitting (adj.)

    "of a suitable kind or character, proper, becoming," 1560s, present-participle adjective from befit (q.v.). Related: Befittingly.ETD befitting (adj.).2

    befit (v.)

    "suit, be suitable to," mid-15c., from be- + fit (v.). Related: Befitted; befitting.ETD befit (v.).2

    befog (v.)

    c. 1600, from be- + fog. Related: Befogged; befogging.ETD befog (v.).2

    befool (v.)

    "make a fool of," late 14c., from be- + fool (n.). Related: Befooled; befooling.ETD befool (v.).2

    before (adv., prep.)

    Old English beforan "in front of, in former times; in the presence of, in front of in time or position," from Proto-Germanic *bi- "by" (see by) + *forana "from the front," adverbial derivative of *fora (from PIE root *per- (1) "forward," hence "in front of, before"). Compare Old Frisian bifara, Old Saxon biforan, Old High German bifora, German bevor.ETD before (adv., prep.).2

    As a conjunction, "previous to the time when," from c. 1200. Contrasting before and after in illustrations is from Hogarth (1768). Before the mast in old sailing ship jargon in reference to the life of a common sailor is from the place of their berths, in front of the fore-mast.ETD before (adv., prep.).3

    beforehand (adv.)

    also before-hand, "in anticipation," early 13c., from before + hand, which here is of uncertain signification, unless the original notion is payment in advance or something done before another's hand does it. Hyphenated from 18c.; one word from 19c.ETD beforehand (adv.).2

    beforetime (adv.)

    "in former times," c. 1300, from before + time (n.). Related: Beforetimes.ETD beforetime (adv.).2

    befoul (v.)

    "make foul, cover with filth," from Old English befylan; see be- + foul (v.). Related: Befouled; befouling.ETD befoul (v.).2

    befriend (v.)

    "act as a friend to," 1550s, from be- + friend (n.). Related: Befriended; befriending.ETD befriend (v.).2

    befuddle (v.)

    1873, "confuse," originally "to confuse with strong drink or opium" (by 1832), from be- + fuddle. An earlier word in the same sense was begunk (1725). Related: Befuddled; befuddling.ETD befuddle (v.).2

    begging (n.)

    "act or habit of asking for alms, mendicancy, a beggar's way of life," late 14c., verbal noun from beg (v.). To go begging "find no one to fill or take" is from 1590s. Related: Beggingly.ETD begging (n.).2

    beg (v.)

    "to ask alms," especially to do so habitually as one's way of life, c. 1200, a word of uncertain origin. Perhaps from the rare Old English bedecian "to beg," from Proto-Germanic *beth-. Or from Anglo-French begger, a back-formation from Old French noun begart (see beggar (n.)) and ultimately from Beguine, which OED considers "perhaps the most likely derivation." The Old English word for "beg" was wædlian, from wædl "poverty." Related: Begged; begging.ETD beg (v.).2

    The meaning "ask for" (a favor, etc.) is by 1520s. As a courteous mode of asking (beg pardon, etc.), it is attested by c. 1600. Of dogs, by 1762. To beg the question (1580s) translates Latin petitio principii, and means "to assume something that hasn't been proven as a basis of one's argument," thus "asking" one's opponent to give something unearned, though more of the nature of taking it for granted without warrant. To beg off (something) "obtain release from by entreaty" is from 1741.ETD beg (v.).3

    began (v.)

    past tense of begin.ETD began (v.).2

    begat (v.)

    archaic past tense of beget.ETD begat (v.).2

    beget (v.)

    Middle English biyeten, from Old English begietan (West Saxon), bigetan, bigeotan (Anglian) "to get by effort, find, acquire, attain, seize" (class V strong verb, past tense begeat, past participle begeaton), from be- + get (v.). The sense of "to procreate" is from c. 1200, generally used of the father only. Similar formation in Old Saxon bigitan, Old High German pigezzan, Gothic bigitan "to get, obtain." Related: Begot; begotten.ETD beget (v.).2

    begetter (n.)

    "one who produces or creates," mid-15c., agent noun from beget.ETD begetter (n.).2

    beggar (n.)

    "one who asks alms," especially as a way of life, c. 1200, from Old French begart, "a member of the Beghards," a mendicant order of lay brothers in the Low Countries, from Middle Dutch beggaert "mendicant," a word of uncertain origin, with pejorative suffix (see -ard). The common noun is perhaps from the proper name; compare Beguine. Early folk etymology connected the English word with bag, but this is now dismissed (see OED).ETD beggar (n.).2

    From mid-14c. as "one who is indigent" (whether begging or not). From c. 1300 as "mean or low person;" as a familiar term for "a fellow, man" by 1833. The form with -ar is attested from 14c., but begger was more usual 15c.-17c. The feminine form beggestere is attested as a surname from c. 1300. Beggar's velvet was an old name for "dust bunnies."ETD beggar (n.).3

    beggar (v.)

    "reduce to poverty," mid-15c., from beggar (n.). From c. 1600 as "exceed the means of," hence "to outdo." Related: Beggared; beggaring.ETD beggar (v.).2

    beggary (n.)

    late 14c., "practice of begging, mendicancy; poverty," from beggar (n.) + -y (2).ETD beggary (n.).2

    beggarly (adj.)

    "in an indigent condition," 1520s, from beggar (n.) + -ly (1).ETD beggarly (adj.).2

    beggarly (adv.)

    "in the manner of a beggar," c. 1400, from beggar (n.) + -ly (2).ETD beggarly (adv.).2

    beginning (n.)

    late 12c., "time when something begins;" c. 1200, "initial stage or first part," verbal noun from begin. The meaning "act of starting something" is from early 13c. The Old English word was fruma (see foremost).ETD beginning (n.).2

    begin (v.)

    Old English beginnan "to attempt, undertake," a rare word beside the more usual form onginnan (class III strong verb; past tense ongann, past participle ongunnen); from be- + West Germanic *ginnan, which is of obscure etymology and found only in compounds, perhaps "to open, open up" (compare Old High German in-ginnan "to cut open, open up," also "begin, undertake"), with sense evolution from "open" to "begin." Cognates elsewhere in Germanic include Old Frisian biginna "to begin," Middle Dutch beghinnen, Old High German beginnan, German beginnen, Old Frisian bijenna "to begin," Gothic duginnan.ETD begin (v.).2

    From late 12c. as "originate, be the originator of;" from c. 1200 as "take the first step in, start to deal with." Intransitive sense "come into existence" is from mid-13c.ETD begin (v.).3

    beginner (n.)

    early 14c., "founder, originator," agent noun from begin. The meaning "novice" is from late 15c. Beginner's luck is by 1849, originally in gambling.ETD beginner (n.).2

    begird (v.)

    Middle English bigirden, from Old English begyrdan "to gird, clothe; surround, fortify;" see be- + gird (v.). Related: Begirt.ETD begird (v.).2

    begone (interj.)

    "go away! depart!" late 14c., contracted from imperative verbal phrase be gone!; see be + gone.ETD begone (interj.).2

    begonia (n.)

    showy flowering plant native to warm regions, 1751, from French begonia (1706), named by French botanist Charles Plumier for Michel Bégon (1638-1710), French governor of Santo Domingo (Haiti) and patron of botany, + abstract noun ending -ia.ETD begonia (n.).2

    begorra (interj.)

    1839, antiquated Anglo-Irish form of expletive By God.ETD begorra (interj.).2

    begotten (adj.)

    "procreated," late 14c., past-participle adjective from beget.ETD begotten (adj.).2

    begrime (v.)

    "cover with dirt," 1530s, from be- + grime (n.). Related: Begrimed.ETD begrime (v.).2

    begrudge (v.)

    late 14c., bigrucchen, "grumble over, find fault, show dissatisfaction," especially "envy the possession of," from be- + Middle English grucchen "to murmur, find fault with, be angry" (see grudge). Related: Begrudged; begrudging; begrudgingly.ETD begrudge (v.).2

    beguiling (adj.)

    "delusive, deceptive, so as to impose upon by artifice or craft," c. 1400, present-participle adjective from beguile. Related: Beguilingly.ETD beguiling (adj.).2

    beguile (v.)

    "delude by artifice," early 13c., from be- + guile (v.). The meaning "entertain with pastimes" is by 1580s (compare the sense evolution of amuse). Related: Beguiled; beguiling.ETD beguile (v.).2

    Beguine (n.)

    late 15c., from French béguine (13c.), Medieval Latin beguina, "a member of a women's spiritual order professing poverty and self-denial, founded c. 1180 in Liege in the Low Countries." They are said to take their name from the surname of Lambert le Bègue "Lambert the Stammerer," a Liege priest who was instrumental in their founding, and it's likely the word was pejorative at first. French bègue is of unknown origin. Related: Beguinage.ETD Beguine (n.).2

    The women's order, though sometimes persecuted, generally preserved its good reputation, but it quickly drew imposters who did not; nonetheless it eventually was condemned as heretical. A male order, called Beghards founded communities by the 1220s in imitation of them, but they soon degenerated (compare Old French beguin "(male) Beguin," also "hypocrite") and wandered begging in the guise of religion; they likely were the source of the words beg and beggar, though there is disagreement over whether Beghard produced Middle Dutch beggaert "mendicant" or was produced by it. The male order was condemned by the Church early 14c. and vanished by mid-16c.ETD Beguine (n.).3

    Cole Porter's "Begin the Beguine" (1935) refers to a kind of popular dance of West Indian origin, from French colloquial béguin "an infatuation, boyfriend, girlfriend," earlier "child's bonnet," and before that "nun's headdress" (14c.), from Middle Dutch beggaert, ultimately the same word as the above. Compare English biggin "child's cap" (1520s), from the French word.ETD Beguine (n.).4

    begun (v.)

    past participle of begin.ETD begun (v.).2

    behalf (n.)

    c. 1300, behalve (with dative suffix), "for the sake or benefit, advantage, interest" (of someone), from Old English (him) be healfe "by (his) side," and, incorrectly, from on (his) healfe "on (his) side," from healfe "side" (see half). The word was confused with Middle English behalve, behalves (adv. and prep.) "by the side of, near."ETD behalf (n.).2

    behave (v.)

    early 15c., reflexive, "conduct or comport" (oneself, in a specified manner), from be- intensive prefix + have in sense of "to have or bear (oneself) in a particular way, comport" (compare German sich behaben, French se porter). The cognate Old English compound behabban meant "to contain," and alternatively the modern sense of behave might have evolved from behabban via a notion of "self-restraint." In early modern English it also could be transitive, "to govern, manage, conduct." Related: Behaved; behaving.ETD behave (v.).2

    behaviorism (n.)

    "theory that human and animal behavior can be explained in terms of conditioning," 1913, coined by U.S. psychologist John B. Watson (1878-1958) from behavior + -ism. Behaviorist is from the same time.ETD behaviorism (n.).2

    behavioral (adj.)

    "pertaining to behavior," 1927, in psychology, from behavior + -al (1).ETD behavioral (adj.).2

    behavior (n.)

    "manner of behaving (whether good or bad), conduct, manners," late 15c., essentially from behave, but with ending from Middle English havour "possession," a word altered (by influence of have) from aver, noun use of Old French verb aveir "to have."ETD behavior (n.).2

    behaviour (n.)

    chiefly British English spelling of behavior; for suffix, see -or.ETD behaviour (n.).2

    behavioural (adj.)

    chiefly British English spelling of behavioral (q.v.); for spelling, see -or.ETD behavioural (adj.).2

    behead (v.)

    "kill by decapitation," Middle English bihevden, from Old English beheafdian, from be-, here with privative force, + heafod "head" (from PIE root *kaput- "head"). Compare German enthaupten, Dutch onthoofden. Related: Beheaded; beheading.ETD behead (v.).2

    beheld (v.)

    past tense and past participle of behold.ETD beheld (v.).2

    behemoth (n.)

    late 14c., huge biblical beast (Job xl.15), from Latin behemoth, from Hebrew b'hemoth, usually taken as plural of intensity of b'hemah "beast." But the Hebrew word is perhaps a folk etymology of Egyptian pehemau, literally "water-ox," the name for the hippopotamus. Used in modern English for any huge beast.ETD behemoth (n.).2

    behest (n.)

    c. 1200, biheste, "a promise or pledge," from Old English behæs "a vow," perhaps from behatan "to promise" (from be- + hatan "command, call") and confused with obsolete hest "command," which may account for the unetymological -t as well as the Middle English shift in meaning to "command, injunction" (late 12c.). Both hatan and hest are from Proto-Germanic *haitanan, for which see hight.ETD behest (n.).2

    behind (adv., prep.)

    Old English behindan "at the back of, after," from bi "by" (see by) + hindan "from behind" (see hind (adj.)). The prepositional sense emerged in Old English. The figurative sense of "not so far advanced, not on equality with" is from c. 1200. The euphemistic noun meaning "backside of a person" is from 1786.ETD behind (adv., prep.).2

    To do something behind (someone's) back "clandestinely" is from late 14c. Phrase behind the times is by 1826. Behind the scenes (1711) is from the theater; figurative sense attested by 1779.ETD behind (adv., prep.).3

    behindhand (adv., adj.)

    "in the rear, in a backward state," especially "insolvent, unable to pay," 1520s, from prepositional phrase; see behind, probably on model of beforehand (q.v.).ETD behindhand (adv., adj.).2

    behold (v.)

    Old English bihaldan (West Saxon behealdan) "give regard to, hold in view," also "keep hold of; belong to," from be- + haldan, healdan (see hold (v.)). Related: Beheld; beholding. A common West Germanic compound, compare Old Saxon bihaldan "hold, keep," Old Frisian bihalda "hold, possess, keep, protect, save," Old High German bihaltan, German behalten, but "[t]he application to watching, looking, is confined to English" [OED]. Related: Beholding.ETD behold (v.).2

    beholder (n.)

    "one who looks upon or sees, a spectator," late 14c., agent noun from behold.ETD beholder (n.).2

    beholden (adj.)

    "under obligation, obliged, bound in gratitude," mid-14c., originally past participle of behold (and preserving the original past participle of hold), but a sense directly related to this use is not recorded among the many and varied meanings attested for behold.ETD beholden (adj.).2

    behoof (n.)

    c. 1200, "use, benefit, advantage," from Old English *bihof "advantage, utility" (implied by bihoflic "useful," and compare behoove), from Proto-Germanic *bi-hof "that which binds, requirement, obligation" (source also of Old Frisian bihof "advantage," Dutch behoef, Middle High German bihuof "useful thing," German Behuf "benefit, use, advantage," Danish behov "need, necessity"). In the common Germanic compound, the first element, likely intensive, is cognate with be- and the second with Old English hof, past tense of hebban "to raise" (see heave (v.)). The original sense is perhaps, then, "taking up (for oneself)."ETD behoof (n.).2

    behoove (v.)

    Middle English bihoven, from Old English behofian "to have need of, have use for," verbal form of the ancient compound word represented by behoof (q.v.). From c. 1200 as "be fit or meet for, be necessary for," now used only in the third person, with it as subject. Related: Behooved; behooving.ETD behoove (v.).2


    chiefly British English spelling of behoove.ETD behove.2

    bey (n.)

    "governor of a Turkish district," 1590s, from Turkish bey, a title of honor in princely families, the Osmanli equivalent of Turkish beg, which is cognate with Persian baig "a lord."ETD bey (n.).2

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