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 The subterranean army was created at the behest of Qin Shi Huang his accession to the throne of the Qin state at age 13. Brigit Katz, Smithsonian Magazine, "Archaeologists Excavate 200 More Chinese Terracotta Warriors," 3 Jan. 2020 But research conducted at the behest of Commissioner Harlan Shober, encompassing records kept for 66 years until 1945, concludes that more than 1,300 were likely buried there in unmarked graves. USA TODAY, "Puppy wins lotto, alligators, mountain lions, Dunkin Donuts wedding: News from around our 50 states," 30 Dec. 2019 The Broadmoor staff made the gingerbread car in tribute to the Broadmoor Special, a race car modified at the behest of the hotel’s founder, Spencer Penrose. Daisy Hernandez, Popular Mechanics, "Hotel Builds Life-Size Replica of 1918 Pierce-Arrow Touring Car out of Gingerbread," 24 Dec. 2019 The Canadian authorities arrested Meng at the behest of the US on allegations that Huawei violated US sanctions on Iran. Jane Li, Quartz, "Huawei’s toughest PR battle isn’t overseas, it’s at home," 3 Dec. 2019 Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen was among those handing out hundreds of turkeys to needy families at the behest of the Twin Cities Salvation Army on Tuesday. Pioneer Press, Twin Cities, "Photos: The Vikings’ Adam Thielen hands out turkeys to needy families," 19 Nov. 2019 At the behest of the Arizona Department of Transportation, parties were planned months in advance to celebrate the openings, and oftentimes included live music, free food and even local vendors selling treats. Chelsea Curtis, azcentral, "Loop 202 South Mountain Freeway is now open, after decades of debate," 21 Dec. 2019 This time, at the behest of the White House, the State Department added a caveat to the application: the federal government would not resettle refugees in a particular place unless consent was provided in accordance with the executive order. Jonathan Blitzer, The New Yorker, "How the White House Is Trying—and Failing—to Keep States from Resettling Refugees," 20 Dec. 2019 Canada arrested Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver last December at the behest of U.S. authorities seeking her extradition on fraud charges; China then detained two Canadian citizens on vague espionage charges in apparent retaliation. Amanda Coletta, Washington Post, "Trudeau to lay out priorities for a second term as Canada’s Parliament reconvenes," 5 Dec. 2019

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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Time Traveler for behest

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

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Last Updated

9 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Behest.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 22 January 2020.

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More from Merriam-Webster on behest

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for behest

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with behest

Spanish Central: Translation of behest

Nglish: Translation of behest for Spanish Speakers

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