be·​quest | \ bi-ˈkwest How to pronounce bequest (audio) , bē- \

Definition of bequest

1 : the act of giving or leaving something by will (see will entry 2 sense 1) : the act of bequeathing established at the bequest of a local philanthropist
2 : something given or left by will or transmitted from the past : something bequeathed : legacy made a bequest of his paintings to the museum

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Examples of bequest in a Sentence

He made a bequest of his paintings to the museum. left small bequests to all of her nieces and nephews
Recent Examples on the Web It was said to be, at the time, the largest philanthropic bequest in U.S. history. Washington Post, "Johns Hopkins, benefactor of namesake hospital and university, was an enslaver," 9 Dec. 2020 The central figure is Julian Van Winkle III, the grandson of a Kentucky bourbon pioneer and the son of a man who, perhaps unavoidably, lost his grip on the family bequest and died relatively young. New York Times, "6 Books for Thinking, Drinking and Changing the World," 25 Nov. 2020 Hopkins founded the university through a multi-million dollar bequest after his death. NBC News, "Johns Hopkins, long believed by university to be abolitionist, owned slaves, records show," 10 Dec. 2020 In her report, however, Jones argues that this bequest should also be understood in its full context: Hopkins envisioned founding a segregated hospital. Nora Mcgreevy, Smithsonian Magazine, "Long Heralded as an Abolitionist, Johns Hopkins Enslaved People, Records Show," 10 Dec. 2020 Plano ISD has received a $500,000 bequest from the namesakes of the school district’s new fine arts center, which is scheduled to open in the spring of 2021, the district’s foundation announced. Teri Webster, Dallas News, "The late namesakes of Plano ISD’s new fine arts center left one more $500K gift for the district," 9 Nov. 2020 And then there is the art museum that will not even allow inquiries about making a bequest. Ed Stockly, Los Angeles Times, "Feedback: White privilege in art museums runs deep," 1 Nov. 2020 The filing, made at the bequest of K1 Promotions, LLC, wasn’t the only trademark Murray and Co. applied for this past Monday. Bob Mcmanaman, The Arizona Republic, "Cardinals' Kyler Murray files trademark requests for 'Hail Murray' and 'Murray Magic'," 21 Nov. 2020 The couple plans to leave the collection to the museum as a bequest. Deborah Martin,, "Rare jewelry in ‘Exquisite Adornment’ exhibit will expand San Antonio Museum of Art’s Asian collection," 16 Nov. 2020

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

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for bequest

Middle English, irregular from bequethen

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Time Traveler for bequest

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for bequest

Last Updated

1 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Bequest.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Feb. 2021.

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More Definitions for bequest



English Language Learners Definition of bequest

: the property or money that you promise in your will to give to another person or organization after you die


be·​quest | \ bi-ˈkwest How to pronounce bequest (audio) \

Kids Definition of bequest

1 : the act of leaving property by means of a will
2 : something given or left by a will


be·​quest | \ bi-ˈkwest How to pronounce bequest (audio) \

Legal Definition of bequest

: an act of bequeathing also : something bequeathed : legacy
demonstrative bequest \ di-​ˈmän-​strə-​tiv-​ \
: a bequest of a particular amount of money or property to be distributed first from one source in the estate and then from other sources to the extent that the first is insufficient
general bequest
: a bequest that is to be distributed from the general assets of the estate and that is not a particular thing
specific bequest \ spə-​ˈsi-​fik-​ \
: a bequest of a particular item or part of an estate or that is payable only from a specified source in the estate and not from the general assets

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