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.

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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 two nations’ relationship has been complicated by Canada’s arrest of Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of the Chinese company Huawei Technologies, at the behest of the United States. David Shribman, Los Angeles Times, "Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is vulnerable in next month’s election," 12 Sep. 2019 Uber said it was drafted by a state legislative counsel at the behest of a Democratic lawmaker, whom Uber declined to identify, and who has not stepped up to carry the bill. Carolyn Said, SFChronicle.com, "Uber circulates new gig-work bill as alternative to AB5," 9 Sep. 2019 Mexico has cooperated with the expansion of the program at the behest of President Donald Trump, who threatened crippling tariffs in June if Mexico did not do more to stop migrants. Washington Post, "US tells migrant woman 8 months pregnant to wait in Mexico," 6 Sep. 2019 According to the film, the pilot was part of a rogue military group called the South African Institute for Maritime Research (SAIMR), which ran covert operations at the behest of the CIA and MI5. Daphne Merkin, The New Republic, "Cold Case Hammarskjöld’s Artful Paranoia," 3 Sep. 2019 The settlement talks have been underway for months, largely at the behest of Judge Dan Polster, the federal judge in Cleveland who is overseeing some 2,000 lawsuits by the local governments against companies in the opioids industry. Jan Hoffman, BostonGlobe.com, "Sacklers would give up ownership of Purdue pharma in proposed $3 billion settlement," 28 Aug. 2019 Google–at the behest of German privacy regulators–suspended a similar program in Europe after hundreds of private conversations were leaked in Belgium. Adam Lashinsky, Fortune, "Why ‘Fitness Tech’ Is Working Out—Data Sheet," 2 Aug. 2019 Thomas smuggled the drugs in at the behest of another inmate, who sold the drugs to Angle. Adam Ferrise, cleveland.com, "Cuyahoga County Jail officers, Heartless Felons gang members charged in drug ring inside troubled jail," 28 Aug. 2019 The settlement talks have been underway for months, largely at the behest of Judge Dan Polster, the federal judge in Cleveland who is overseeing some 2,000 lawsuits by the local governments against companies in the opioids industry. Jan Hoffman, BostonGlobe.com, "Sacklers would give up ownership of Purdue pharma in proposed $3 billion settlement," 28 Aug. 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

18 Sep 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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