be·​hold·​en | \ bi-ˈhōl-dən How to pronounce beholden (audio) , bē-\

Definition of beholden

: being under obligation for a favor or gift : indebted I'm beholden to you

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Synonyms for beholden


bounden [archaic], indebted, obligated, obliged

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Did You Know?

Have you ever found yourself under obligation to someone else for a gift or favor? It's a common experience, and, not surprisingly, many of the words describing this condition have been part of the English language for centuries. "Beholden" was first recorded in writing in the 14th century, in the poem "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight." "Indebted," which entered English through Anglo-French, is even older, first appearing in the 13th century. English speakers in the 14th century would also have had another synonym of "beholden" to choose from, a now-obsolete sense of "bounden," which today means "made obligatory" or "binding."

Examples of beholden in a Sentence

not wanting to be beholden to anyone, he insisted on paying his own way

Recent Examples on the Web

By casting him as beholden to big corporations and too cozy with President Trump and other Republicans, however, Cisneros hopes to stage the most formidable primary challenge Cuellar has ever faced. Camilo Montoya-galvez, CBS News, "Texas congressman's former intern challenges him in Democratic primary," 20 June 2019 His attack on Germany as beholden to Russia, because of a pipeline project, was in keeping with Trump’s practice of accusing others of behavior he has been accused of. Eli Stokols,, "Trump disrupts NATO summit with blasts at allies, especially Germany, and new defense spending demands," 11 July 2018 These voters are always portrayed as beholden to forces outside of their control, both socioeconomic and political. Drew Magary, GQ, "The People Are the Problem," 25 June 2018 The president is unpopular in many suburban and other swing districts, and many Republicans don't want their leader to be viewed as beholden to the whims of the unpredictable president. Amy Lieu, Fox News, "McCarthy emerges as a front-runner to succeed Ryan as House speaker," 16 Apr. 2018 Why should people who live in cities be beholden to the wills of small towns in the middle of nowhere? Letters To The Editor, The Mercury News, "Letter: Why should city voters bow to the will of rural voters?," 2 July 2019 Politicians should feel beholden to the largest number of possible donors. Eric Lach, The New Yorker, "Why Famous, Powerful Presidential Candidates Are Begging You for Five Dollars," 10 June 2019 Lawmakers recruit and hire their own staff, who can be much younger and beholden to their bosses for career advancement. Karla Adam, Washington Post, "Five allegations of bullying and abuse at Westminster that shocked MPs," 13 July 2019 But yes, Los Angeles has some excellent pizza — pies made to the specifications of its pizzaiolos’ imaginations, shaped by Italy’s pizza traditions but not beholden to them. Bill Addison,, "6 great pizza places in Los Angeles," 13 July 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'beholden.' 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 beholden

14th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for beholden

Middle English, from past participle of beholden

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Statistics for beholden

Last Updated

14 Aug 2019

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Time Traveler for beholden

The first known use of beholden was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for beholden


be·​hold·​en | \ bi-ˈhol-dən How to pronounce beholden (audio) \

Kids Definition of beholden

: owing the return of a gift or favor I'm not beholden to anyone for my success.

More from Merriam-Webster on beholden

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with beholden

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for beholden

Comments on beholden

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a wrong name or inappropriate designation

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