Definition of behest
- The meeting was called at the senator's behest.
- At the behest of her friends, she read the poem aloud.
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I only made the change at the author's behest.
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'behest.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
Behest first appeared in 12th century Old English as behλst, which is formed from the prefix be- and the Old English verb hātan ("to command" or "to promise"). While the word was originally used only in the sense of "promise," it acquired the additional sense of "command" among speakers of Middle English. Among contemporary English speakers, behest is no longer used in the sense of "promise" but rather denotes an authoritative or urgent request or command. Old English hātan also gave English the now-archaic words hest (meaning "command") and hight ("being called or named").
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