From Middle English beholden, from Old English behealdan (“to hold, have, occupy, possess, guard, preserve, contain, belong, keep, observe, consider, behold, look at, gaze on, see, signify, avail, effect, take care, beware, be cautious, restrain, act, behave”), from Proto-Germanic *bihaldaną (“to hold with, keep”), equivalent to be- + hold. Cognate with Dutch behouden (“to keep, restrain, preserve”), German behalten (“to keep, restrain, remember”), Danish and Norwegian beholde (“to keep”) and Swedish behålla (“to keep”).
- (transitive) To see, or to look at.
1898, Winston Churchill, chapter 8, The Celebrity:
- The humor of my proposition appealed more strongly to Miss Trevor than I had looked for, and from that time forward she became her old self again; […] . Now she had come to look upon the matter in its true proportions, and her anticipation of a possible chance of teaching him a lesson was a pleasure to behold.
Rarely used in informal speech. The past participle beholden now has a meaning detached from the other forms of the word.
- behold in The Century Dictionary, The Century Co., New York, 1911
- behold in Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam, 1913
- (archaic) haven, refuge
See beholde (“to keep”)
- Imperative of beholde.