be·​hav·​ior | \ bi-ˈhā-vyər How to pronounce behavior (audio) , bē- \

Definition of behavior

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
2a : 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.

Synonyms for behavior


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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 Looking back, the obvious lesson seems to be how much monkeypox has changed its behavior since then. Wired, 5 Aug. 2022 The zoo said in a statement Thursday that her behavior appeared consistent with going into labor. Tommy Mcardle, Peoplemag, 4 Aug. 2022 Investigative reporter Chris Joyner has been following the Black Hammer Party for months, documenting its odd and dangerous behavior, as well as its radical ideology. Chris Joyner, ajc, 4 Aug. 2022 One upcoming episode shows Butt-Head under the effects of medication for his aggressive behavior. Carlos Aguilar, Los Angeles Times, 4 Aug. 2022 The Texans also reached confidential settlements with 30 women with claims related to Watson after being accused of enabling his behavior and not stopping it. Brent Schrotenboer, USA TODAY, 4 Aug. 2022 Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson received a six-game suspension for his behavior with massage therapists. Cliff Pinckard, cleveland, 2 Aug. 2022 But the fact that some hospitals are providing substandard care is not proof that their behavior is required by law or even based on a reasonable fear of the law. John Mccormack, National Review, 1 Aug. 2022 John Lasseter was toppled five years ago by allegations about his workplace behavior. New York Times, 1 Aug. 2022 See More

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

First Known Use of behavior

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

History and Etymology for behavior

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

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Time Traveler for behavior

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

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Last Updated

9 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Behavior.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 12 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for behavior


be·​hav·​ior | \ bi-ˈhāv-yər How to pronounce behavior (audio) \

Kids Definition of behavior

1 : the manner in which a person acts Students are rewarded for good behavior.
2 : the whole activity of something and especially a living being Scientists observed the elephant's behavior.


variants: or chiefly British behaviour \ bi-​ˈhā-​vyər How to pronounce behavior (audio) \

Medical Definition of behavior

1 : the manner of conducting oneself
2a : anything that an organism does involving action and response to stimulation
b : the response of an individual, group, or species to its environment

Other Words from behavior

behavioral or chiefly British behavioural \ -​vyə-​rəl How to pronounce behavior (audio) \ adjective
behaviorally or chiefly British behaviourally \ -​rə-​lē How to pronounce behavior (audio) \ adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on behavior

Nglish: Translation of behavior for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of behavior for Arabic Speakers


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