be·​hest | \ bi-ˈhest How to pronounce behest (audio) , bē- \

Definition of behest

1 : an authoritative order : command The meeting was called at the senator's behest.
2 : an urgent prompting At the behest of her friends, she read the poem aloud.

Did you know?

Behest is an ancient word: it is almost a thousand years old. It was formed from the prefix be- and the verb hātan ("to command" or "to promise"), and its Old English ancestor was used exclusively in the sense of "promise," a now-obsolete meaning that continued on in Middle English especially in the phrase "the land of behest." The "command" meaning of behest is also ancient but it's still in good use, typically referring to an authoritative order. Behest is now also used with a less weighty meaning; it can refer to an urgent prompting, as in "a repeat performance at the behest of the troupe's fans."

Examples of behest in a Sentence

I only made the change at the author's behest.
Recent Examples on the Web The Senate didn't pay the $155 per diem to Clark for that meeting at the behest of Senate leaders. Michael R. Wickline, Arkansas Online, 29 Sep. 2022 In the 22-minute music video-documentary hybrid, Graulau tracks the way outside forces and corruption have infiltrated the island at the behest of the natives who live there. Ana Escalante, Glamour, 27 Sep. 2022 Elijah Wood stars as Norval, a wealthy young man who travels to a secluded cabin in Oregon at the behest of his estranged father, Brian. Amy Mackelden, Harper's BAZAAR, 24 Sep. 2022 Remember when Arians shockingly stepped down after last season and there were reports that he was kicked upstairs at the behest of Tom Brady? Mike Bianchi, Orlando Sentinel, 21 Sep. 2022 The royals will remain in mourning for another week, not carrying out official engagements, at the behest of King Charles III. Joanna Sugden, WSJ, 20 Sep. 2022 The Interior Ministry previously ordered an investigation into Amini’s death at the behest of the archconservative Iranian president, Ebrahim Raisi. Rachel Pannett, Washington Post, 20 Sep. 2022 Salazar has opened a criminal investigation into the flights , which occurred at the behest of Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida. Brian Chasnoff, San Antonio Express-News, 20 Sep. 2022 There is no public data tracking how many police departments have made policy changes at the behest of their insurers. Kimberly Kindy, Anchorage Daily News, 15 Sep. 2022 See More

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

First Known Use of behest

12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for behest

Middle English, promise, command, from Old English behǣs promise, from behātan to promise, from be- + hātan to command, promise — more at hight

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The first known use of behest was in the 12th century

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Dictionary Entries Near behest

behenic acid



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Last Updated

4 Oct 2022

Cite this Entry

“Behest.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 Oct. 2022.

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Nglish: Translation of behest for Spanish Speakers


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