be·​hest | \ bi-ˈhest How to pronounce behest (audio) , bē-\

Definition of behest

1 : an authoritative order : command The meeting was called at the senator's behest.
2 : an urgent prompting At the behest of her friends, she read the poem aloud.

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Did You Know?

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").

Examples of behest in a Sentence

I only made the change at the author's behest.

Recent Examples on the Web

At Grindle’s behest, tights were added to Elastigirl’s suit. Carly Mallenbaum, USA TODAY, "'Incredibles 2' star Elastigirl is 'thicc': Why that's a good thing," 21 June 2018 With left fielder Franchy Cordero playing back at Green’s behest to guard against a double, Evan Longoria flared a single into shallow left field to score Slater. Kevin Acee,, "Padres manager Green says Brad Hand was 'best choice right there'," 1 May 2018 At Colbert’s behest, Foucault had plundered monastic archives and intimidated their librarians. Jacob Soll, The New Republic, "How Islam Shaped the Enlightenment," 12 Apr. 2018 Canadian authorities arrested Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver, British Columbia, on Dec. 1, at the behest of U.S. authorities and under the terms of a U.S.-Canada extradition treaty. Paul Vieira, WSJ, "Canada’s China Envoy: U.S. Extradition Case for Huawei CFO Isn’t a Sure Thing," 23 Jan. 2019 Wearing Indian-inspired attire to a wedding at the behest of an Indian bride is a paradigmatic example of an action that is neither economically nor psychologically harmful to the source community. Nadra Nittle, Vox, "The cultural appropriation debate has changed. But is it for the better?," 18 Dec. 2018 Right now, children in diapers are being attacked by tear gas, at the behest of the U.S. government. Jennifer Wright, Harper's BAZAAR, "If You're Defending Tear Gassing Children, You're a Horrible Person," 28 Nov. 2018 And appraisers came under fire following the housing crisis, shouldering much blame for inflating home prices at lenders’ behest. Cezary Podkul, WSJ, "OK, Computer: How Much Is My House Worth?," 29 Nov. 2018 The Turkish government alleges that he was murdered inside the building at the behest of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman; the Saudi government denies any involvement in Khashoggi’s disappearance. Lynn Yaeger, Vogue, "The Week in Washington: Jared Kushner Is a Hidden Genius," 14 Oct. 2018

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.

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First Known Use of behest

12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for behest

Middle English, promise, command, from Old English behǣs promise, from behātan to promise, from be- + hātan to command, promise — more at hight

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Statistics for behest

Last Updated

6 Mar 2019

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Time Traveler for behest

The first known use of behest was in the 12th century

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More from Merriam-Webster on behest

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with behest

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for behest

Spanish Central: Translation of behest

Nglish: Translation of behest for Spanish Speakers

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