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

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 The quota system was abandoned in a matter of weeks, as announced in an email Gilbert sent at McMullen's behest. Keri Blakinger, Houston Chronicle, "Warden demoted as Texas prisons announce plan to review policy, ban disciplinary quotas," 18 June 2018 One letter, sent by an attorney at former Superintendent Denise Birdwell's behest, was paid for by the district and was among the many charges filed against her when the district moved to terminate her contract. Yihyun Jeong, azcentral, "Scottsdale school board president isn't laughing over parody account, sues for $1.5M," 16 May 2018 China has long been Pyongyang's biggest benefactor, and its recent tightening of trade with North Korea, at Trump's behest, is thought to have played a part in Kim's agreement to meet Trump to discuss a denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. Don Lee,, "Trump went from 'America first' to saving jobs in China. This could be why," 15 May 2018 Martin doesn't kill the dog (stupid Martin) at Patrick's behest, and look where that led us. Rebecca Farley,, "What Exactly Happened To Beatrice In The Rain?," 8 May 2018 While his representative, Alessandro Pellegrini, has already met with intermediaries working at the Blues' behest to discuss a move to Stamford Bridge., "Maurizio Sarri Reportedly Instructs Assistants to Start Learning English Amid Chelsea Links," 3 May 2018 Nichols said the posts — potentially very embarrassing for a personality for a network with commentary that leans left — had been erased at Reid's behest. David Bauder,, "MSNBC's Joy Reid says homophobic posts were result of hack," 25 Apr. 2018 But Gallardo's struggles have come while trying to remake his pitching style at the Brewers' behest by pitching up in strike zone more. Todd Rosiak, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Yovani Gallardo moved to relief as the Brewers' rotation battle intensifies," 12 Mar. 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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Phrases Related to behest

at the behest of someone

Statistics for behest

Last Updated

4 Sep 2018

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Time Traveler for behest

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

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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 reject or criticize sharply

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