From Middle English behaven, bihabben (“to restrain, behave”), from Old English behabban (“to surround, embrace, hold, contain, hold back, withhold, restrain”), from Proto-West Germanic *bihabbjan, equivalent to be- + have. Cognate with Middle Low German behebben, behāven (“to receive, acquire, reach, keep”), Low German behebben (“to act, behave”), German behaben (“to behave”).
behave (third-person singular simple present behaves, present participle behaving, simple past and past participle behaved)
- (reflexive) To conduct (oneself) well, or in a given way.
- You need to behave yourself, young lady.
- 1611, The Holy Bible, […] (King James Version), London: […] Robert Barker, […], →OCLC, 2 Maccabees 2:21:
- And the manifest signs that came from heaven unto those that behaved themselves manfully to their honour for Judaism […]
- (intransitive) To act, conduct oneself in a specific manner; used with an adverbial of manner.
- He behaves like a child whenever she's around.
- How did the students behave while I was gone?
- My laptop has been behaving erratically ever since you borrowed it.
- 2014 April 21, “Subtle effects”, in The Economist, volume 411, number 8884:
- Manganism has been known about since the 19th century, when miners exposed to ores containing manganese, a silvery metal, began to totter, slur their speech and behave like someone inebriated.
- (obsolete, transitive) To conduct, manage, regulate (something).
- c. 1605–1608, William Shakespeare, “The Life of Tymon of Athens”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies […] (First Folio), London: […] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, →OCLC, [Act III, scene v], page 88:
- He did behave his anger ere 'twas spent.
- 1590, Spenser, Edmund, The Faerie Queene, book 2, canto 3, verse 40:
- But who his limbs with labours, and his mind / Behaues with cares, cannot so easie mis.
- (intransitive) To act in a polite or proper way.
- His mother threatened to spank him if he didn't behave.
- 2009, Roger L. Van Ommeren, From Rebellion to Submission (page 48)
- One time when Willie was more set on clowning than on learning about Jesus, Miss Helen ordered, "Willie Mack, you stand up against the wall until you learn to behave."
Conjugation of behave
|present tense||past tense|
|2nd-person singular||behave, behavest†||behaved, behavedst†|
|3rd-person singular||behaves, behaveth†||behaved|
to act in a specific manner
to act in a polite or proper way
- The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.
Translations to be checked
- behave in Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam, 1913
- behave in The Century Dictionary, New York, N.Y.: The Century Co., 1911