be·​half bi-ˈhaf How to pronounce behalf (audio)
: interest, benefit
also : support, defense
argued in his behalf
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.

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.

Examples of behalf in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web In the late 1800s, Democrats and Republicans in Congress pressured a reluctant President William McKinley to go to war with Spain on behalf of Cuban independence. Elizabeth N. Saunders, Foreign Affairs, 20 Feb. 2024 Shana Davies, Brian Lieberman and Vadim Dyment negotiated the deal on behalf of Studio71. Jaden Thompson, Variety, 20 Feb. 2024 Privacy champions don’t just communicate with their team on your behalf. Jodi Daniels, Forbes, 20 Feb. 2024 The Palestinian Authority relies on tax revenue collected by Israel on its behalf to fund public services in the Palestinian territories. Rachel Pannett, Washington Post, 19 Feb. 2024 But the zoning board blocked the permit in March of last year after Winker filed an appeal on behalf of a couple who live close to the playhouse property, Anthony Vinciguerra and Courtney Berrien. Andres Viglucci, Miami Herald, 19 Feb. 2024 Last May, Oklahoma’s attorney general took the unprecedented step of filing a brief to the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of Mr. Glossip, asking the justices to halt his execution. Riley Robinson, The Christian Science Monitor, 18 Feb. 2024 The second half will be divided between two attorneys who will argue on behalf of the Colorado voters who sued and the Colorado attorney general. David G. Savage, Los Angeles Times, 8 Feb. 2024 As heir to the throne, Prince William may undertake some duties on behalf of his father in addition to his own diary of engagements in the coming weeks, PEOPLE understands. Janine Henni, Peoplemag, 8 Feb. 2024 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'behalf.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English, from by + half half, side

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined above

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

Dictionary Entries Near behalf

Cite this Entry

“Behalf.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Mar. 2024.

Kids Definition


be·​half bi-ˈhaf How to pronounce behalf (audio)
: useful aid : support
spoke in my behalf

More from Merriam-Webster on behalf

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