From Middle English besemen, bisemen; equivalent to be- +‎ seem.



beseem (third-person singular simple present beseems, present participle beseeming, simple past and past participle beseemed)

  1. (transitive, intransitive, archaic) With some qualifying word: to appear, seem, look.
    This inn beseems well for a weary wayfarer.
    • 1596, Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Qveene. [], part II (books IV–VI), London: [] [Richard Field] for VVilliam Ponsonbie, OCLC 932900760, book IV, canto VI, stanza 19, page 85:
      VVith that, her angels Face, vnſeene afore, / Like to the ruddie morne appeard in ſight, / Deawed with ſiluer drops, through ſweating ſore, / But ſomewhat redder, then beſeem'd aright, / Through toyleſome heate and labour of her weary fight.
    • 1820, John Keats, “Isabella; or, The Pot of Basil. A Story from Boccaccio.”, in Lamia, Isabella, the Eve of St. Agnes, and Other Poems, London: Printed [by Thomas Davison] for Taylor and Hessey, [], OCLC 927360557, stanza XIX, page 58:
      Now they can no more hear thy ghittern's tune, / For venturing syllables that ill beseem / The quiet glooms of such a piteous theme.
    • 1843, Henry Barkley Henderson, The Bengalle, Or Sketches of Society in the East - Volume 1, page 330-331:
      His sword fell from his grasp -- his eye, late glaring with the ire of a sticken tiger, -- his brow, late speaking but death, and dark defiance, suddenly sank into the soft beseeming of gratefulness, and of betokened kindness and feeling.
    • 1915, Ruth Waterbury, Photoplay: The Aristocrat of Motion Picture Magazines:
      The mouth, artfully carmined to allure, beseems the red door of a white sepulchre.
  2. (transitive, intransitive, archaic) Without any qualifying word: to be appropriate or creditable.
    It beseems you not to grumble thus.
    • c. 1591, William Shakespeare, Henry VI, Part 1, Act IV, Scene 7,[1]
      Give me their bodies, that I may bear them hence
      And give them burial as beseems their worth.
    • 1594, Christopher Marlowe, Edward II, London: William Jones,[2]
      Beseemes it thee to contradict thy king?
    • 1597, Richard Hooker, Of the Lawes of Ecclesiastical Politie, Book 5, in The Works of Mr. Richard Hooker, London: Andrew Crook, 1666, pp. 180-181,[3]
      Should we hereupon frame a Rule, that what form of speech or behaviour soever is fit for Suiters in a Prince’s Court, the same and no other beseemeth us in our Prayers to Almighty God.
    • 1643, Petition of the Commissioners of the Generall Assembly to the Kings Majesty, Edinburgh,[4]
      The Nationall Assembly of this Kirk, from which we have our Commission, did promise in their thanksgiving for the many favours expressed in Your Majesties Letter, their best endeavours to keep the people under their charge, in unity and peace, and in loyalty and obedience to Your Majestie and Your Laws, which we confesse is a duty well beseeming the preachers of the Gospel []
    • 1717, Samuel Croxall (translator), Ovid’s Metamorphoses in Fifteen Books. Translated by the most Eminent Hands, London: Jacob Tonson, Book 6, The Story of Tereus, Procne, and Philomela, p. 202,[5]
      Her Vest, with Flow’rs of Gold embroider’d o’er,
      With Grief distress’d, the mournful Matron tore,
      And a beseeming Suit of gloomy Sable wore.
    • 1819, Walter Scott, Ivanhoe, Chapter 5,[6]
      “Lady,” said Cedric, “this beseems not; were further pledge necessary, I myself, offended, and justly offended, as I am, would yet gage my honour for the honour of Ivanhoe.”