be·​queath bi-ˈkwēth How to pronounce bequeath (audio)
bē- How to pronounce bequeath (audio)
bequeathed; bequeathing; bequeaths

transitive verb

: to give or leave by will (see will entry 2 sense 1)
used especially of personal property
a ring bequeathed to her by her grandmother
: to hand down : transmit
lessons bequeathed to future generations
bi-ˈkwē-thəl How to pronounce bequeath (audio)

Examples of bequeath in a Sentence

He bequeathed his paintings to the museum. Lessons of the past are bequeathed to future generations.
Recent Examples on the Web The Dulwich Picture Gallery in South London, opened to the British public in 1817, has since served, thanks to the old masters bequeathed it, as a window onto that world of the grandees. Julian Bell, The New York Review of Books, 26 Dec. 2023 In 1969, Mar-a-Lago was designated a National Historic Landmark. Post, who died in 1973, bequeathed the property to the U.S. government as a winter get-away for presidents, but Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter never used it. Terry Spencer, Fortune, 9 Oct. 2023 The Enlightenment and colonialism were both born in the West, which prefers to celebrate the freedom-forging legacy of the former than confront the enduring prejudice bequeathed by the latter. Roger Cohen, New York Times, 10 Dec. 2023 These were bequeathed to the Egyptian government upon his death in 1945. Nada El Sawy, Condé Nast Traveler, 21 Nov. 2023 The first competitive Oscar ever awarded to a Black person, the best supporting actress Oscar that Hattie McDaniel won for her performance in Gone With the Wind in 1940, went missing from Howard University (to which McDaniel bequeathed it after her death in 1952) sometime in the late 1960s. Scott Feinberg, The Hollywood Reporter, 26 Sep. 2023 And now, within a month of each other, the streaming gods have bequeathed us a pair of docuseries about the same online dating cult, Amazon’s Desperately Seeking Soulmate: Twin Flames Universe and Netflix’s new three-part Escaping Twin Flames. Chris Vognar, Rolling Stone, 8 Nov. 2023 Some landowners are bequeathing their properties to their localities. Madison Rudolf, Washington Post, 18 Oct. 2023 Not counting their blues covers record from 2016, the last time the Rolling Stones bequeathed us with an album of fresh material was during George W. Bush’s presidency. David Browne, Rolling Stone, 9 Oct. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'bequeath.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English bequethen, from Old English becwethan, from be- + cwethan to say — more at quoth

First Known Use

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of bequeath was before the 12th century

Dictionary Entries Near bequeath

Cite this Entry

“Bequeath.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Mar. 2024.

Kids Definition


: to give or leave property by a will
: hand down sense 1
traditions bequeathed by our ancestors
bequeathal noun

Legal Definition


transitive verb
: to give by will
used especially of personal property but sometimes of real property
see also legacy, legatee compare devise

Old English becwethan to speak to, address, leave by will, from be- to, about + cwethan to say

More from Merriam-Webster on bequeath

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