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 house, which had been in the possession of only one family, was bequeathed to the Salvation Army, which kept it sealed until the Snyders opted to buy it, in 1963. Jonathan Lethem, The New Yorker, 21 Aug. 2023 After a fight with his influencer client led to several days of crying and enlightenment at a Tokyo temple, Stanford had bequeathed all his earthly possessions to Anthony. Jp Mangalindan, Peoplemag, 17 Aug. 2023 But Reagan and Heston bequeathed to the industry its modern setup, where actors would be paid out huge sums for syndicated rebroadcasts. Chloe Berger, Fortune, 4 Aug. 2023 The Del Deo family has said that even if the Parks Service does not honor Frenchie’s will bequeathing the shack to Salvatore Del Deo, the eviction bypasses the Use Plan’s responsibility to recognize an existing, living Schnell daughter in Tennessee. Lindsay Crudele,, 7 July 2023 This specific ring was made for William IV's 1831 coronation, who later bequeathed it to his widow, Queen Adelaide, who then bequeathed it to Queen Victoria. Chelsey Sanchez, Harper's BAZAAR, 25 Apr. 2023 By the eighteenth century, some of Joice’s descendants were enslaved at White Marsh (bequeathed to the Jesuit order by James Carroll, whose relative John Carroll, a descendant of Darnall, became a Jesuit priest) and St. Inigoes, two of an eventual eight plantations owned by the Maryland Jesuits. Paul Elie, The New Yorker, 27 June 2023 The records — in some cases, family wills that show enslaved human beings bequeathed along with feather beds and farm animals — provide a visceral link between today’s decision makers and slavery. Reuters, NBC News, 27 June 2023 The shack — one of 19 that persist along the windswept edge of Provincetown’s northwest shore — was bequeathed to the painter by the original owner, a close family friend. Lindsay Crudele,, 22 June 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 25 Sep. 2023.

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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