behest

noun
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.

Keep scrolling for more

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

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. SI.com, "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, sandiegouniontribune.com, "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

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about behest

Listen to Our Podcast about behest

Statistics for behest

Last Updated

1 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for behest

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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).

WORD OF THE DAY

to make a payment or contribution

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Time Traveler Quiz: Which Word Came First?

  • time traveler quiz which word came first
  • Which came first?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!