be

verb
\ ˈbē \
past tense first- and third-person singular was\ˈwəz, ˈwäz \; past tense second-person singular were\ˈwər \; past tense plural were; past subjunctive were; past participle been\ˈbin, ˈben, chiefly Britishˈbēn \; present participle being\ˈbē(-i)ŋ \; present tense first-person singular am\əm, ˈam \; present tense second-person singular are\ˈär, ər \; present tense third-person singular is\ˈiz, əz \; present tense plural are; present subjunctive be

Definition of be 

(Entry 1 of 5)

intransitive verb

1a : to equal in meaning : have the same connotation as : symbolize God is love January is the first month let x be 10

b : to have identity with : to constitute the same idea or object as The first person I met was my brother.

c : to constitute the same class as These three books are the authoritative works on the president's life.

d : to have a specified qualification or characterization The leaves are green.

e : to belong to the class of the fish is a trout Keeping this room clean is your responsibility. used regularly in senses 1a through 1e as the copula of simple predication

2a : to have an objective existence : have reality or actuality : live I think, therefore I am

b : to have, maintain, or occupy a place, situation, or position the book is on the table

c : to remain unmolested, undisturbed, or uninterrupted used only in infinitive form let him be

d : to take place : occur the concert was last night

e : to come or go has already been and gone has never been to the circus

f archaic : belong, befall … to thine and Albany's issue be this perpetual. —Shakespeare

auxiliary verb

1 used with the past participle of transitive verbs as a passive-voice auxiliary the money was foundthe house is being built

2 used as the auxiliary of the present participle in progressive tenses expressing continuous action he is readingI have been sleeping

3 used with the past participle of some intransitive verbs as an auxiliary forming archaic perfect tenses … Christ is risen from the dead … —1 Corinthians 15:20 (Douay Version)

4 used with the infinitive with to to express futurity, arrangement in advance, or obligation I am to interview him todayshe was to become famous

Be

symbol

Definition of Be (Entry 2 of 5)

beryllium

abbreviation (1)

Definition of Bé (Entry 3 of 5)

Baumé

BE

abbreviation (2)

Definition of BE (Entry 4 of 5)

1 bachelor of education

2 bachelor of engineering

3 bill of exchange

4 Black English

be-

prefix

Definition of be- (Entry 5 of 5)

1 : on : around : over besmear

2 : to a great or greater degree : thoroughly befuddle

3 : excessively : ostentatiously in intensive verbs formed from simple verbs bedeck and in adjectives based on adjectives ending in -ed beribboned

4 : about : to : at : upon : against : across bestride

5 : make : cause to be : treat as belittle befriend

6 : call or dub especially excessively bedoctor

7 : affect, afflict, treat, provide, or cover with especially excessively bedevil befog

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Synonyms & Antonyms for be

Synonyms: Verb

breathe, exist, live, subsist

Antonyms: Verb

depart, die, expire, pass away, perish, succumb

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Examples of be in a Sentence

Verb

stories that begin with the familiar line “once upon a time there was a beautiful maiden” we'll be there waiting for you

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The five-year statute of limitations on crimes associated with the actual theft expired more than 20 years ago, so the thieves can no longer be prosecuted. Mike Corder, The Seattle Times, "Dutch sleuth hopes for breakthrough in biggest US art heist," 27 June 2017 Led by billionaire Wang Jianlin, China’s second-richest man, Wanda is a real-estate group that’s seeking to transform itself into a entertainment giant that would challenge Walt Disney Co. Young-sam Cho, Bloomberg.com, "Why China Is Scrutinizing Its Biggest Dealmakers: QuickTake Q&A," 27 June 2017 From there, the team was to travel to Turkey, then to Denmark, before finally flying to the remote Faroes, a cluster of Danish islands north of Scotland. James Montague, New York Times, "A Welcome Payday for Obscure Teams in the Champions League," 27 June 2017 A preliminary study released this week concluded that students who switched to private schools using the state's voucher system were likely to experience an initial drop in math scores before rebounding academically over time. Meredith Colias, Post-Tribune, "Study: Math scores drop, rebound for some voucher students," 27 June 2017 The official who described the plans was not authorized to discuss them publicly by name and spoke on condition of anonymity. Washington Post, "Ruling in travel ban leaves myriad questions unanswered," 27 June 2017 The main charm of the Outer Banks is the isolation. Birmingham Magazine, AL.com, "Take a trip to the Outer Banks in North Carolina," 27 June 2017 Here are seven items about Rowling’s seven-book series, spanning the 20 years that transformed a small notice for a 1997 book deal into a global phenomenon. 1. Danielle Tcholakian, Longreads, "Harry Potter and the Long-Term Global Impact," 27 June 2017 With many STEPS students participating in Special Olympics, they frequently are asked to speak to groups. Suzanne Baker, Naperville Sun, "New group gives voice to special needs students," 27 June 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'be.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of be

Verb

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1a

History and Etymology for be

Verb

Middle English, from Old English bēon; akin to Old High German bim am, Latin fui I have been, futurus about to be, fieri to become, be done, Greek phynai to be born, be by nature, phyein to produce

Prefix

Middle English, from Old English bi-, be-; akin to Old English by, near — more at by

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More Definitions for be

be

verb

English Language Learners Definition of be

 (Entry 1 of 2)

—used to indicate the identity of a person or thing

—used to describe the qualities of a person or thing

—used to indicate the condition of a person or thing

be-

prefix

English Language Learners Definition of be- (Entry 2 of 2)

: make : cause to be : treat as

: about

: in a way that is easy to notice

be

verb
\ \
past first person & third person singular was\wəz, ˈwəz, wäz \; second person singular were\wər, ˈwər \; plural were; past subjunctive were; past participle been\bin \; present participle being\ˈbē-iŋ \; present first person singular am\əm, am \; second person singular are\ər, är \; third person singular is\iz, əz \; plural are; present subjunctive be

Kids Definition of be

1 : to equal in meaning or identity She is my neighbor.

2 : to have a specified character, quality, or condition The leaves are green. How are you? I am fine.

3 : to belong to the group or class of Apes are mammals.

4 : to exist or live Once there was a brave knight.

5 : to occupy a place, situation, or position The book is on the table.

6 : to take place The concert was last night.

8 used as a helping verb with other verbs The ball was thrown.

be-

prefix

Kids Definition of be-

1 : on : around : over

2 : provide with or cover with : dress up with bewhiskered

3 : about : to : upon bemoan

4 : make : cause to be belittle befriend

Medical Definition of Bé 

(Entry 1 of 3)

Baumé

Be

symbol

Medical Definition of Be (Entry 2 of 3)

beryllium

Medical Definition of BE (Entry 3 of 3)

1 barium enema

2 below elbow

3 board-eligible

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Comments on be

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the setting in which something occurs

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