Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Medical
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary


verb be·stow \bi-ˈstō, bē-\

Simple Definition of bestow

  • : to give (something) as a gift or honor

Full Definition of bestow

  1. transitive verb
  2. 1 :  to put to use :  apply <bestowed his spare time on study>

  3. 2 :  to put in a particular or appropriate place :  stow

  4. 3 :  to provide with quarters :  put up

  5. 4 :  to convey as a gift —usually used with on or upon

be·stow·al play \-ˈstō-əl\ noun
be·stow·er play \-ˈstō(-ə)r\ noun

Examples of bestow

  1. The university bestowed on her an honorary degree.

  2. <bestowed a new car on their son for graduation>

Origin of bestow

Middle English, from be- + stowe place — more at stow

First Known Use: 14th century

Synonym Discussion of bestow

give, present, donate, bestow, confer, afford mean to convey to another as a possession. give, the general term, is applicable to any passing over of anything by any means <give alms> <gave her a ride on a pony> <give my love to your mother>. present carries a note of formality and ceremony <present an award>. donate is likely to imply a publicized giving (as to charity) <donate a piano to the orphanage>. bestow implies the conveying of something as a gift and may suggest condescension on the part of the giver <bestow unwanted advice>. confer implies a gracious giving (as of a favor or honor) <confer an honorary degree>. afford implies a giving or bestowing usually as a natural or legitimate consequence of the character of the giver <the trees afford shade> <a development that affords us some hope>.

Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up bestow? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


February 7, 2016

a slight offense

Get Word of the Day daily email!


Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!


Which of the following refers to thin, bending ice, or to the act of running over such ice?

duvet spindrift pince-nez kittly-benders
Name That Thing

10 quick questions: hear them, spell them, and see how your skills compare to the crowd.


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.