be·half | \ bi-ˈhaf , -ˈhäf , bē- \

Definition of behalf 

: interest, benefit also : support, defense argued in his behalf

on behalf of or in behalf of

: in the interest of also : as a representative of I wrote the letter on behalf of my client.

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on behalf of vs. in behalf of: Usage Guide

A body of opinion favors in with the "interest, benefit" sense of behalf and on with the "support, defense" sense. This distinction has been observed by some writers but overall has never had a sound basis in actual usage. In current British use, on behalf (of) has replaced in behalf (of); both are still used in American English, but the distinction is frequently not observed.

Examples of behalf in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Nguyen’s family has been in Singapore to accept Nguyen’s master’s degree diploma on his behalf at the school’s graduation. Chris Fuchs /, NBC News, "U.S. citizen arrested during protest in Vietnam scheduled to stand trial," 13 July 2018 The formerly armed group was removed from European Union and U.S. terrorism lists several years ago after denouncing violence and getting western politicians to lobby on its behalf. Matthew Lee, Fox News, "Pompeo presses Europe to get tough on Iran," 13 July 2018 Nicholas Mandato, 20, of Dagsboro, Del., was arraigned on a murder charge in the Haverhill session held at Newburyport District Court, where a not-guilty plea was entered on his behalf. Jerome Campbell,, "Family of slain Haverhill teen recalls boy’s ‘legacy of love’ as alleged killer arraigned," 12 July 2018 Oftentimes these issues are corrected for consumers as a result of the FCC’s advocacy on their behalf. Chris Morris, Fortune, "Want to File a Complaint With the FCC? It Could Cost You $225," 11 July 2018 Duran immigrated to the United States from El Salvador in 2006; the Southern Poverty Law Center filed a petition on his behalf, and his immigration case is currently pending review with the Board of Immigration Appeals. Meagan Fredette, Teen Vogue, "Journalist Manuel Duran Believes He's in ICE Detention for Criticizing Memphis Police," 10 July 2018 And then Victoria Rickman, who did not testify on her own behalf, addresses the court. Erin Moriarty, CBS News, "Was alleged rape and shooting death investigation influenced by reality TV cameras?," 30 June 2018 Around the time kids took to showing off the labels of their 80s jeans, my mother, too, went shopping on my behalf. Hedia Anvar, Longreads, "How To Build An Intellectual," 23 June 2018 Should reunification efforts fail—if parents can't find their kids or provide proper documentation—the children become wards of the state and immigration agents can then consent to DNA testing on their behalf. Megan Molteni, WIRED, "Family DNA Testing at the Border Would Be an Ethical Quagmire," 22 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'behalf.' 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 behalf

14th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for behalf

Middle English, from by + half half, side

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Dictionary Entries near behalf



be had



be hard/tough to beat


Phrases Related to behalf

on behalf of someone

Statistics for behalf

Last Updated

25 Aug 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for behalf

The first known use of behalf was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for behalf


be·half | \ bi-ˈhaf , -ˈhäf \

Kids Definition of behalf

: a person's interest or support He argued in my behalf.

on behalf of or in behalf of

1 : in the interest of I speak in behalf of my friend.

2 : as a representative of I accepted the award on behalf of the whole class.

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Comments on behalf

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


the setting in which something occurs

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