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 writer will be spending a little time in San Antonio at the behest of Magik Theatre and the San Antonio Public Library Foundation. Deborah Martin,, "Daniel Handler (aka Lemony Snicket) coming to San Antonio’s Magik Theatre," 5 June 2019 There’s Dean Martin, who plays a big fish in a little pond, the richest man MacLaine is meant to marry at the behest of her mother. Lilah Ramzi, Vogue, "An Ode to the Campiest Film You’ve Probably Never Seen," 19 Apr. 2019 It has also been reported that the player was pursued at Mauricio Pochettino's behest and an agreement already said to be in place., "English Report Delivers 'Truth' About Spurs' Move for Boca Juniors Star Wilmar Barrios," 18 June 2018 The State Department’s determination to extradite Andrés Felipe Arias, a former Colombian agriculture minister, at the behest of a left-wing Colombian Supreme Court, marks a new low for Foggy Bottom. Mary Anastasia O’grady, WSJ, "A One-Sided Treaty With Colombia," 3 Mar. 2019 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

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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Last Updated

12 Jun 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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