be·​hest | \bi-ˈhest, 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

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 The company, at the behest of Scrabble owner Hasbro Inc., left out one possibility under consideration for a hot minute — RBI — after consulting competitive players who thought it potentially too contentious. Leanne Itali, The Seattle Times, "Yowza! Scrabble dictionary update adds ‘OK,’ ‘ew’ to official play," 24 Sep. 2018 Publishers and studios issued takedown notices with enthusiasm; platforms like Tripod and Yahoo Groups would sweep entire fan communities from their servers at the behest of entertainment companies. Elizabeth Minkel, The Verge, "The online free speech debate is raging in fan fiction, too," 8 Nov. 2018 The mystery was solved when it was announced that the shelving of the Secure Elections Act came at the behest of the White House. Benjamin Wofford, Vox, "The midterms are already hacked. You just don’t know it yet.," 25 Oct. 2018 Google has been pressured by a consortium of human rights groups to abandon the project – codenamed Project Dragonfly, which would be app-based and censored at the behest of the Chinese government. Brian Flood, Fox News, "Google CEO to meet GOP lawmakers regarding alleged bias against conservatives," 28 Sep. 2018 K-pop stars are now front-row fixtures at runway shows at the behest of American designers. Deanna Pai, Glamour, "Why Are Beauty Ads Still Fetishizing Asian Women?," 17 Aug. 2018 China’s cooperation — implementing domestic controls on illicit substances — has occurred at the behest of the United States, not as a result of binding agreements. Matthew Garcia, Washington Post, "What A U.S.-China Trade War Could Mean For The Opioid Epidemic," 9 July 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

11 Dec 2018

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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

Comments on behest

What made you want to look up behest? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to make faulty or ineffective

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