be·​stow bi-ˈstō How to pronounce bestow (audio)
bestowed; bestowing; bestows

transitive verb

: to put to use : apply
bestowed his spare time on study
: to put in a particular or appropriate place : stow
bestowed in her car … by the chauffeur.Frances Towers
… the whole cargo was bestowedR. L. Stevenson
: to provide with quarters : put up
bestowed Clotilde in lodgings of her own.Rayner Heppenstall
: to convey as a gift
usually used with on or upon
The university bestowed an honorary degree upon her.
bestowal noun
bestower noun
Choose the Right Synonym for bestow

give, present, donate, bestow, confer, afford mean to convey to another as a possession.

give, the general term, is applicable to any passing over of anything by any means.

give alms
gave her a ride on a pony
give my love to your mother

present carries a note of formality and ceremony.

present an award

donate is likely to imply a publicized giving (as to charity).

donate a piano to the orphanage

bestow implies the conveying of something as a gift and may suggest condescension on the part of the giver.

bestow unwanted advice

confer implies a gracious giving (as of a favor or honor).

confer an honorary degree

afford implies a giving or bestowing usually as a natural or legitimate consequence of the character of the giver.

the trees afford shade
a development that affords us some hope

Examples of bestow in a Sentence

The university bestowed on her an honorary degree. bestowed a new car on their son for graduation
Recent Examples on the Web On a perfect Miami Beach night, under an almost-full moon, the burger crowns were bestowed once again. Connie Ogle, Miami Herald, 23 Feb. 2024 That honor of first-in-the-nation primary has traditionally been bestowed upon New Hampshire. Sudiksha Kochi, USA TODAY, 22 Feb. 2024 Special honors are being bestowed on a long-time civil rights activist in New York. Melissa Noel, Essence, 21 Feb. 2024 The Power of Cinema Award Presented by Hill Valley will also be bestowed upon Kevin Goetz & Screen Engine at the ceremony. Jenelle Riley, Variety, 15 Feb. 2024 Last year he was bestowed the honor of Commander of the Order of the British Empire. Sahil Kapur, NBC News, 6 Feb. 2024 Current forecasts from the National Weather Service do predict cloudy skies and a 40 percent chance of showers Saturday evening, but no cloud can dampen the energy and excitement that the team has bestowed upon their fans this season. Kylie Martin, Detroit Free Press, 25 Jan. 2024 Knutsen and Natoli, meanwhile, will be bestowed the Frank Capra Achievement Award and the Franklin J. Schaffner Achievement Award, respectively. Addie Morfoot, Variety, 10 Feb. 2024 The honors were bestowed late last month during the 48th Winter Fancy Food show in Las Vegas. Pam Kragen, San Diego Union-Tribune, 9 Feb. 2024 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'bestow.' 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, from be- + stowe place — more at stow

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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

Cite this Entry

“Bestow.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Mar. 2024.

Kids Definition


be·​stow bi-ˈstō How to pronounce bestow (audio)
: to present as a gift
bestowal noun
bestower noun

More from Merriam-Webster on bestow

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