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 In 2017, the museum received the largest gift in its history, a $9 million bequest by investor Madeleine Rast. Washington Post, "Wilhelmina Cole Holladay, champion of women in the arts, dies at 98," 9 Mar. 2021 Many of our previous generations understood and treasured this extraordinary bequest to us. Peter Georgescu, Forbes, "An Unholy Attack On American Democracy," 19 Apr. 2021 There is, however, at least one striking difference between the McDermott bequest and Fast Forward. Michael Granberry, Dallas News, "Museums mull selling art after a brutal year — but doing so is complicated," 12 Mar. 2021 In 2019, the museum announced a bequest of 3,000 African-American quilts, including 500 by Rosie Lee Tompkins, considered one of the finest Black improvisational quilters. Susan Moeller,, "Quilters are weaving personal histories of the Black experience: ‘We’re a people with a lot of stories to tell’," 11 Mar. 2021 The takeaway is that anytime a specific bequest is made, it should always be accompanied by a statement about who is responsible for paying any associated debt. Dallas News, "Is there a doctrine in the house? Caught by the common law," 21 Feb. 2021 The administrators have in the past received surprise gifts — Ms. Maguire talks of the occasional unexpected bequest, for example, and Ms. Boyd still remembers another usher who gave her a $50,000 check — but not of this size. Michael Paulson, New York Times, "Yes, We Liked the Berkshires Shows. Here’s $2 Million.," 29 Oct. 2020 The reasons for Smithson’s somewhat accidental bequest have puzzled American historians, as has the donor himself. Christoph Irmscher, WSJ, "‘The Science of James Smithson’ Review: Unsung Founder," 23 Oct. 2020 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

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

8 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Bequest.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 14 May. 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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