be·hav·ior | \bi-ˈhā-vyər, 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.

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Other Words from behavior

behavioral \bi-ˈhā-vyə-rəl, bē- \ adjective
behaviorally \bi-ˈhā-vyə-rə-lē, bē- \ adverb

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.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Trump’s behavior since beginning his presidency in January 2017 has on occasion irked much of the British public on many occasions. Christina Boyle,, "When Trump visits Britain, thousands of demonstrators plan to show him some resistance," 11 July 2018 Cruz did not have a criminal record before the shooting, but his mother called deputies to their home about 20 times for behavior issues including threats and possible battery. Terry Spencer, The Seattle Times, "Official: Florida shooting suspect’s mom let him buy gun," 10 July 2018 There is one other way in which Trump’s behavior has changed in recent months. Jonathan Chait, Daily Intelligencer, "Will Trump Be Meeting With His Counterpart — Or His Handler?," 8 July 2018 In May 2008, Norris, then 23, completed an IDOC behavior self-risk management plan as part of his probation. Cynthia Sewell, idahostatesman, "He said he was on a path to 'positive change.' Then came prison time, & the shootout," 5 July 2018 The project's goal was to educate the dog community about dog behavior to help prevent dangerous situations at the park. Quoron Walker, Courant Community, "Local Girl Scout Troop Says Goodbye," 2 July 2018 McManus first heard of Darwish’s behavior from Heather Dumitru — his tenant — in January 2017. Lyndsay Winkley,, "Did the 'system' fail mentally ill man who shot 2 San Diego police officers? Some think so," 1 July 2018 That's something the New England Patriots have been doing through the team's operator, Kraft Sports Group, which examines fan behavior and uses analytics to tailor its marketing tactics. Katherine Peralta And Joseph Person, charlotteobserver, "A new chapter is about to begin for the Carolina Panthers. Here's what we know.," 29 June 2018 Through a combination of enforcement targeted at driver behavior, lowered speed limits and training for cab drivers, the city saw its pedestrian deaths last year drop to their lowest number, 101, since the city began tracking the statistic in 1910. Detroit Free Press, "Death on foot," 28 June 2018

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.

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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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Statistics for behavior

Last Updated

8 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for behavior

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

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More Definitions for behavior



English Language Learners Definition of behavior

: the way a person or animal acts or behaves

: the way something (such as a machine or substance) moves, functions, or reacts


be·hav·ior | \bi-ˈhāv-yər \

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 \

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 \ adjective
behaviorally or chiefly British behaviourally \-rə-lē \ adverb

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More from Merriam-Webster on behavior

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for behavior

Spanish Central: Translation of behavior

Nglish: Translation of behavior for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of behavior for Arabic Speakers

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