behavior

noun

be·​hav·​ior bi-ˈhā-vyər How to pronounce behavior (audio)
bē-
1
: the way in which someone conducts oneself or behaves (see behave sense 1)
We were grateful for the gracious behavior of our hostess.
The children were rewarded for good behavior.
Be on your best behavior.
also : an instance of such behavior
unacceptable social behaviors
2
a
: the manner of conducting (see conduct entry 1 sense 2) oneself
criminal behavior
normal adolescent behavior
b
: anything that an organism does involving action and response to stimulation
c
: the response of an individual, group, or species to its environment
They are studying the behavior of elephants in the wild.
3
: the way in which something functions or operates
They tested the behavior of various metals under heat and pressure.

Examples of behavior in a Sentence

I'm surprised by her bad behavior toward her friends. Students will be rewarded for good behavior. scientists studying the behavior of elephants An acceptable social behavior in one country may be unacceptable in another country. Doctors are trying to educate people about behaviors that can put them at increased risk for skin cancer. The experiment tested the behavior of various metals under heat and pressure. See More
Recent Examples on the Web Changing Focus From Controlling Drivers To Ensuring Their Safety In the past, when discussing telematics and drivers, the focus was on controlling good behavior and penalizing bad behavior, such as unsafe driving habits or fuel thefts. Aliaksandr Kuushynau, Forbes, 22 Feb. 2024 Doctors in fact concluded that her recent struggles were due to frontotemporal dementia, a group of neurodegenerative disorders that can affect behavior, personality, language and movement, her representatives said in a statement, Page Six reported. Martha Ross, The Mercury News, 22 Feb. 2024 Bad behavior: Entitled tourists are running amok, defacing the Colosseum, getting rowdy in Bali and messing with wild animals in national parks. Colleen Grablick, Washington Post, 22 Feb. 2024 Aphasia is a condition that affects language and communication abilities, while FTD is a disorder that impacts behavior and cognitive functions. Zack Sharf, Variety, 22 Feb. 2024 While aphasia affects language and communication abilities, dementia impacts behavior and cognitive functions. Brittany Spanos, Rolling Stone, 22 Feb. 2024 The actor was ordered to take behavior intervention plan classes, as well as being ordered to undergo drug and alcohol assessment. Sean Neumann, Peoplemag, 22 Feb. 2024 The self-help expert’s guide to building good habits and breaking bad ones via tiny changes in behavior. The California Independent Booksellers Alliance, Los Angeles Times, 21 Feb. 2024 Grossman’s attorney argued that prosecutors had not met the standard for second-degree murder because the suspect did not get formal prior admonition that her behavior was extremely dangerous and showed a reckless disregard for life. Richard Winton, Los Angeles Times, 10 Feb. 2024 See More

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

Word History

Etymology

alteration of Middle English behavour, from behaven "to behave" + -our -or entry 2

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2a

Time Traveler
The first known use of behavior was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near behavior

Cite this Entry

“Behavior.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/behavior. Accessed 3 Mar. 2024.

Kids Definition

behavior

noun
be·​hav·​ior bi-ˈhā-vyər How to pronounce behavior (audio)
1
: the way in which one conducts oneself
2
: the way in which something (as a machine) behaves
3
: anything that a living being does that involves action and response to stimulation
behavioral adjective

Medical Definition

behavior

noun
be·​hav·​ior
variants or chiefly British behaviour
1
: the manner of conducting oneself
2
a
: anything that an organism does involving action and response to stimulation
b
: the response of an individual, group, or species to its environment
behavioral adjective
or chiefly British behavioural
behaviorally adverb
or chiefly British behaviourally

More from Merriam-Webster on behavior

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