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 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 Upon her death in 1952, McDaniel bequeathed her award – which was a plaque as opposed to a statuette, customary for supporting actor awards given in the late ’30s and early ‘40s – to Howard University. Dan Heching, CNN, 26 Sep. 2023 Upon her death in 1952, the actress bequeathed her Oscar to Howard University, and the award was displayed in the school's drama department up until the late 1960s, according to the academy. Gina Martinez, CBS News, 26 Sep. 2023 Under current rules, a capital asset bequeathed to an heir is revalued to its price at the time of the original owner’s death, extinguishing all tax liability incurred up to that point, forever. Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times, 17 Oct. 2023 By instead bequeathing assets upon your death, this may be more favorable for the recipient tax-wise. Anna-Louise Jackson,, 30 Sep. 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 6 Dec. 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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