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verb, be·have \bi-ˈhāv, bē-\

Simple Definition of behave

  • : to act in an acceptable way : to act properly

  • : to act in a particular way

  • of a thing : to function, react, or move in a particular way

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of behave


  1. transitive verb
  2. 1 :  to manage the actions of (oneself) in a particular way

  3. 2 :  to conduct (oneself) in a proper manner

  4. intransitive verb
  5. 1 :  to act, function, or react in a particular way

  6. 2 :  to conduct oneself properly

behaver noun

Examples of behave in a sentence

  1. If you can't behave in the store we'll have to leave.

  2. If you can't behave yourself in the store we'll have to leave.

  3. I wish those children would behave themselves.

  4. He behaves like a child!

  5. The experiment tested how various metals behave under heat and pressure.

Origin of behave

Middle English behaven, from be- + haven to have, hold

First Known Use: 15th century

Synonym Discussion of behave

behave, conduct, deport, comport, acquit mean to act or to cause oneself to do something in a certain way. behave may apply to the meeting of a standard of what is proper or decorous <the children behaved in church>. conduct implies action or behavior that shows the extent of one's power to control or direct oneself <conducted herself with unfailing good humor>. deport implies behaving so as to show how far one conforms to conventional rules of discipline or propriety <the hero deported himself in accord with the code of chivalry>. comport suggests conduct measured by what is expected or required of one in a certain class or position <comported themselves as gentlemen>. acquit applies to action under stress that deserves praise or meets expectations <acquitted herself well in her first assignment>.

BEHAVE Defined for Kids


verb be·have \bi-ˈhāv\

Definition of behave for Students


  1. 1 :  to act in a particular manner <The children behaved well at the party.>

  2. 2 :  to act in a proper or acceptable way <Tell them to behave.>

  3. 3 :  to act or function in a particular way <We're studying how metals behave under pressure.>

Medical Dictionary


verb be·have \bi-ˈhāv\

Medical Definition of behave

behaved; behaving

  1. transitive verb

  2. :  to bear or conduct (oneself) in a particular way

  3. intransitive verb

  4. :  to act, function, or react in a particular way

Seen and Heard

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a timid, meek, or unassertive person

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