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

Definition of bequeath

transitive verb

1 : 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
2 : to hand down : transmit lessons bequeathed to future generations

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Other Words from bequeath

bequeathal \ bi-​ˈkwē-​thəl How to pronounce bequeath (audio) , -​t͟həl , bē-​ \ noun

Synonyms for bequeath


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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 Parents bequeath many things to their children: eye color, hair texture, freckles… and maybe an appreciation for gua sha. Jessica Cruel, Allure, "How 7 Celebrities Are Sharing Self-Care Rituals With Family," 21 Mar. 2021 Wait too long and leaders throughout this region will bequeath to their grandkids the bill for 2020. William Pesek, Forbes, "Covid-19’s $24 Trillion Cost (So Far) Means Economics Will Never Be The Same," 26 Feb. 2021 Stacy Burroughs of San Anselmo plans to bequeath some of her vintage cookbooks to Pawlcyn, who was the chef of San Francisco’s Fog City Diner in the late 1980s’s when Burroughs was a hostess there. Carolyn Jung,, "After 3,800 cookbooks lost in fire, chef Cindy Pawlcyn is flooded with donations to rebuild," 26 Oct. 2020 The man has no kids or immediate next of kin to bequeath the estate to who could preserve it. Tim Latterner, House Beautiful, "This Man Is Looking For the Heir of His Life’s Work—His Home," 13 Aug. 2020 O’Keeffe, who died in 1986 at age 98, bequeathed or gave him the material that Sotheby’s will exhibit... Brenda Cronin, WSJ, "A Trove of Georgia O’Keeffe Mementos, for Sale at Sotheby’s," 25 Feb. 2020 Gandhi bequeathed his last name to Nehru’s daughter, Indira, whose family has continued to lead Congress since India achieved independence from British rule in 1947. San Diego Union-Tribune, "India’s 2 biggest political parties vie for Gandhi’s legacy," 1 Oct. 2019 When Auchincloss died, the collection was bequeathed to his assistant, Colleen Townsend Pilat, who is a friend of Woods., "Jackie Kennedy photos and other rare memorabilia to be sold at auction," 5 Oct. 2019 The debt that Hamilton bequeathed, Mr. May notes, was indeed modest relative to America’s economic muscle. Roger Lowenstein, WSJ, "‘Jefferson’s Treasure’ Review: Penny-Pincher in Chief," 19 Aug. 2018

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

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

History and Etymology for bequeath

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

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Time Traveler for bequeath

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for bequeath

Last Updated

1 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Bequeath.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for bequeath



English Language Learners Definition of bequeath

: to say in a will that (your property) will be given to (a person or organization) after you die
: to give (ideas, knowledge, etc.) to (younger people) as part of their history


be·​queath | \ bi-ˈkwēth How to pronounce bequeath (audio) , -ˈkwēt͟h \
bequeathed; bequeathing

Kids Definition of bequeath

1 : to give or leave by means of a will I bequeath this ring to my sister.
2 : to hand down These stories were bequeathed to us by our ancestors.


transitive verb
be·​queath | \ bi-ˈkwēth, -ˈkwēt͟h How to pronounce bequeath (audio) \

Legal Definition of bequeath

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

History and Etymology for bequeath

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

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