be

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

Definition of  (Entry 3 of 5)

Baumé

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

Antonyms: Verb

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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 What more can the United States be doing right now to help address this crisis? ABC News, "'This Week' Transcript 4-25-21: Rep. Karen Bass, Sen. Rick Scott, Dr. Anthony Fauci," 25 Apr. 2021 Could Minari's Yuh-Jung Youn be the first Korean actress to win an Oscar? Ew Staff, EW.com, "What to Watch this Weekend: RuPaul's Drag Race season 13 crosses the finish line," 23 Apr. 2021 And each rider’s role affects the resulting power profiles: the differences between GC rider and all-rounder profiles may be partly a result of the jobs they’re assigned. Alex Hutchinson, Outside Online, "The New Science of “Fatigue Resistance”," 23 Apr. 2021 When we’re finally forced to change course, painfully, no one will be able to say we hadn’t been told. Geoff Colvin, Fortune, "The overlooked report from the U.S. Treasury you should know about," 23 Apr. 2021 That led to an attitude by the powers that be that Clarkson, for all his energy, wasn’t all that valuable. Gordon Monson, The Salt Lake Tribune, "Gordon Monson: The Utah Jazz have a luxury — two sixth men, their Frick and their Frack, Jordan Clarkson and Joe Ingles," 23 Apr. 2021 And don’t think the Power 5 powers that be aren’t gazing across the pond intently. Mark Zeigler, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Column: Soccer’s Super League may be dead, but the concept lives on in college football," 23 Apr. 2021 Clouds be in and out of the area overnight making any viewing of the Lyrid meteor shower challenging. Dallas News, "Storms lurking for Friday," 21 Apr. 2021 Shouldn’t employees’ immediate bosses be the ones to guide and enable their staff with the necessary knowledge and tools? Robert Sher, Forbes, "How Midsized Companies Can Launch Powerful Mentoring Programs," 21 Apr. 2021

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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Time Traveler for be

Time Traveler

The first known use of be was before the 12th century

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Dictionary Entries near be

BDSM

BDU

bdy

be

Be

BE

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Statistics for be

Last Updated

28 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Be.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/be. Accessed 16 May. 2021.

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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
\ How to pronounce be (audio) \
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

 (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

More from Merriam-Webster on be

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for be

Nglish: Translation of be for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of be for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about be

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