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 Lake Oswego was among the first districts to shutter at the behest of the school board last March. oregonlive, "As Portland parents watch for new school reopening guidelines, some push for relaxed rules while others say ‘not so fast’," 18 Jan. 2021 At the behest of Vincent Townsend, assistant publisher of the News, Mr. Lankford had a lavish expense account to buy wiretap and photographic surveillance equipment. Washington Post, "Tom Lankford, civil rights reporter secretly in league with police, dies at 85," 17 Jan. 2021 Jackie Kennedy also famously oversaw the completion of the White House Rose Garden, at the behest of her husband. Mary Elizabeth Andriotis, House Beautiful, "A Look at the Most Impressive—and Fascinating—White House Interiors Throughout History," 14 Jan. 2021 At times, the U.S. Attorney’s Office District of Massachusetts said in a statement, Chen was working directly at the behest of Chinese government officials. Jerry Dunleavy, Washington Examiner, "MIT professor accused of hiding Chinese government contracts while receiving millions in US grants," 14 Jan. 2021 The addition of a $58 million park-and-ride facility and Washington County service center at the Interstate 494 station in Woodbury, the line's eastern terminus, comes partly at the behest of the Federal Transit Administration (FTA). Janet Moore, Star Tribune, "Gold Line BRT cost going up by $70 million for more park-and-ride spots," 12 Jan. 2021 At the behest of a friend, and as final hail Mary, Susan reached out to Pandemic of Love for help. Susanna Schrobsdorff, Time, "Picking Up the Pieces of Us," 10 Jan. 2021 Right now, a lot of that hope has been dashed after a mob of domestic terrorists stormed the Capitol on Wednesday in an effort to overturn the election results at the behest of President Donald Trump, resulting in several deaths and heavy injuries. Natalie Gontcharova,, "Democrats Won. Now, They Need To Go Big.," 8 Jan. 2021 Australia still faces China’s wrath, as does Canada over the detention of the chief financial officer of the Chinese technology giant Huawei at the behest of the United States. New York Times, "With Concessions and Deals, China’s Leader Tries to Box Out Biden," 3 Jan. 2021

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

25 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Behest.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Jan. 2021.

More from Merriam-Webster on behest

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for behest

Nglish: Translation of behest for Spanish Speakers

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