be·​hav·​ior | \ bi-ˈhā-vyər How to pronounce behavior (audio) , bē- \

Definition of behavior

1 : the way in which someone conducts oneself or behaves (see behave sense 1) We were grateful for the gracious behavior of our hostess. The children were rewarded for good behavior. Be on your best behavior. also : an instance of such behavior unacceptable social behaviors
2a : the manner of conducting (see conduct entry 1 sense 2) oneself criminal behavior normal adolescent behavior
b : anything that an organism does involving action and response to stimulation
c : the response of an individual, group, or species to its environment They are studying the behavior of elephants in the wild.
3 : the way in which something functions or operates They tested the behavior of various metals under heat and pressure.

Synonyms for behavior


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Examples of behavior in a Sentence

I'm surprised by her bad behavior toward her friends. Students will be rewarded for good behavior. scientists studying the behavior of elephants An acceptable social behavior in one country may be unacceptable in another country. Doctors are trying to educate people about behaviors that can put them at increased risk for skin cancer. The experiment tested the behavior of various metals under heat and pressure. See More
Recent Examples on the Web In the letter dated May 10, Ducey urged the platforms to use their mechanisms in place to track and stop criminal behavior. Javier Arce, The Arizona Republic, 13 May 2022 Being able to understand this variability by being able to create physiological models that creates recreates individuals’ behavior. Stephen Ibaraki, Forbes, 13 May 2022 Dolphins have also been found stranded en masse in Bulgaria and Crimea, showing behavior atypical of their species. Naomi Cohen, NBC News, 13 May 2022 The Delaware Attorney General has called for a federal civil rights investigation and several Georgia attorneys also questioned the deputies' behavior. Abraham Kenmore, USA TODAY, 12 May 2022 Given how much of the brain’s behavior remains a mystery — not least how consciousness emerges from three pounds of electric jelly — the aggregate achievements of such systems are remarkable. New York Times, 12 May 2022 Some witnesses interviewed for the report, dated March 30, said Harrington’s behavior was improving. oregonlive, 11 May 2022 And what, actually, will happen in the future largely depends on one unknown variable: human behavior. Stephanie Hanes, The Christian Science Monitor, 10 May 2022 For others, the author is disloyal to Mr. Trump, breaching trust with him and colleagues still in public life, revealing behavior and remarks thought to have been private. John Bolton, WSJ, 10 May 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'behavior.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of behavior

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2a

History and Etymology for behavior

alteration of Middle English behavour, from behaven "to behave" + -our -or entry 2

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Time Traveler for behavior

Time Traveler

The first known use of behavior was in the 15th century

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Last Updated

17 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Behavior.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for behavior


be·​hav·​ior | \ bi-ˈhāv-yər How to pronounce behavior (audio) \

Kids Definition of behavior

1 : the manner in which a person acts Students are rewarded for good behavior.
2 : the whole activity of something and especially a living being Scientists observed the elephant's behavior.


variants: or chiefly British behaviour \ bi-​ˈhā-​vyər How to pronounce behavior (audio) \

Medical Definition of behavior

1 : the manner of conducting oneself
2a : anything that an organism does involving action and response to stimulation
b : the response of an individual, group, or species to its environment

Other Words from behavior

behavioral or chiefly British behavioural \ -​vyə-​rəl How to pronounce behavior (audio) \ adjective
behaviorally or chiefly British behaviourally \ -​rə-​lē How to pronounce behavior (audio) \ adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on behavior

Nglish: Translation of behavior for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of behavior for Arabic Speakers


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