be·​quest bi-ˈkwest How to pronounce bequest (audio)
: 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
: something given or left by will or transmitted from the past : something bequeathed : legacy
made a bequest of his paintings to the museum

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 The Marine Library Association last year requested to transfer the Jordan bequest into an endowment fund overseen by the St. Croix Valley Foundation, where the money could be invested in high-yield funds, said Jim Maher, president of the Marine Library Association. Mary Divine, Twin Cities, 6 Feb. 2024 Lilly’s bequest was big enough to impress the hayseeds at the feed store, but, as the magazine’s editor, Wiman was making only sixty thousand dollars a year. Casey Cep, The New Yorker, 4 Dec. 2023 As a matter of policy, every bequest and gift goes straight to the endowment, and the company’s unique relationship with the Kennedy Center — which relieves its cash flow worries — allows the funds to sit and grow. Michael Andor Brodeur, Washington Post, 10 Feb. 2024 That makes the precise financial impact of today’s alumni revolt hard to determine in current dollars and future bequests, even as billionaires including Idan Ofer and Les Wexner have severed ties with the university during the last two months. Janet Lorin, Fortune, 4 Dec. 2023 None of the bequest was to be used for existing programs, nor was the Army to convert existing buildings. Lisa Napoli, Fortune, 8 Nov. 2023 His bequest to Baylor is Pickens’ swan song for his support of health and medical causes in Texas, said Jay Rosser, Pickens’ longtime chief of staff and part of an executor team helping oversee their boss’ estate. Cheryl Hall, Dallas News, 5 May 2023 Since 1992, the number of people getting inheritances from parents has nearly doubled even as bequests from grandparents and aunts and uncles have remained flat. Andrew Van Dam, Washington Post, 10 Nov. 2023 The prize carries a cash award of $1 million from a bequest left by the prize's creator, Swedish inventor Alfred Nobel. Compiled By Democrat-Gazette Staff From Wire Reports, Arkansas Online, 3 Oct. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'bequest.' 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, irregular from bequethen

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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

Dictionary Entries Near bequest

Cite this Entry

“Bequest.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Mar. 2024.

Kids Definition


be·​quest bi-ˈkwest How to pronounce bequest (audio)
: the action of bequeathing
: something given or left by a will

Legal Definition


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

More from Merriam-Webster on bequest

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!