mis·​be·​have ˌmis-bi-ˈhāv How to pronounce misbehave (audio)
misbehaved; misbehaving
transitive : to conduct (oneself) badly or improperly
students who frequently misbehave themselves in class
intransitive : to behave with poor manners or a lack of courtesy
He worried about the decline of family discipline, about the fact that local youth went out walking after dark, wasted time in levity, misbehaved in church.Tracy Kidder
intransitive : to behave with disregard for accepted moral standards especially in sexual matters
known for misbehaving with numerous women
intransitive of a member of the armed forces : to behave before or in the presence of the enemy in a way that does not conform to military standards or practice
… has been charged with desertion and misbehaving before the enemy …Dan Lamothe
intransitive : to behave in an unexpected or unwelcome way
After five floods in four years, people in Liberty County are used to seeing the Trinity River misbehave.Adam Nossiter
misbehaver noun
plural misbehavers
misbehavers in the classroom

Examples of misbehave in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web But FRCs have historically proved to be unruly: If the plasma misbehaves, the confining magnetic field also disintegrates and the plasma cools. IEEE Spectrum, 15 Oct. 2023 Naturally, the series picks up once the exposition is out of the way, and characters can just start behaving, or misbehaving as the case may be. Robert Lloyd, Los Angeles Times, 9 Oct. 2023 Students who are focused on class activities don’t have time to misbehave. Tara García Mathewson, USA TODAY, 20 July 2023 Recent measurements suggest that stars at the outskirts of our galaxy are misbehaving. Adam Mann, Scientific American, 11 Oct. 2023 Overtourism has had considerable impact on the destination since its reopening—but its latest issues have been with international travelers behaving badly, including defacing property and misbehaving with authorities. Rachel Chang, Condé Nast Traveler, 13 Oct. 2023 Teachers say the fear of facing such allegations has scared them from responding to misbehaving students and empowered some parents to harass teachers. John Yoon, New York Times, 5 Sep. 2023 In some cases, dogs will misbehave or act out, says Sarah Byosiere, an animal behaviorist who used to run the Thinking Dog Center at Hunter College. Olivia McCormack, Washington Post, 28 Aug. 2023 That experience helped to inform his later work as a behavioral consultant for misbehaving dogs. Lois Parshley, Scientific American, 19 Sep. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'misbehave.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of misbehave was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near misbehave

Cite this Entry

“Misbehave.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/misbehave. Accessed 8 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


: to behave in a wrong or improper manner

More from Merriam-Webster on misbehave

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