From Middle English behaven, bihabben (“to restrain, behave”), equivalent to be- + have. Compare Old English behabban (“to include, hold, surround, comprehend, contain, detain, withhold, restrain”), Middle High German behaben (“to hold, take possession of”).
- (reflexive) To conduct (oneself) well, or in a given way.
- You need to behave yourself, young lady.
- Bible, 2 Macc. ii. 21
- those that behaved themselves manfully
- (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.
- (obsolete, transitive) To conduct, manage, regulate (something).
- He did behave his anger ere 'twas spent.
- 1590, Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene, II.iii:
- 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.
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