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A compound of the sources of be- and come. From Middle English becomen, bicumen, from Old English becuman (to come (to), approach, arrive, enter, meet with, fall in with; happen, befall; befit), from Proto-Germanic *bikwemaną (to come around, come about, come across, come by), equivalent to be- (about, around) +‎ come. Cognate with Scots becum (to come, arrive, reach a destination), North Frisian bekommen, bykommen (to come by, obtain, receive), West Frisian bikomme (to come by, obtain, receive), Dutch bekomen (to come by, obtain, receive), German bekommen (to get, receive, obtain), Swedish bekomma (to receive, concern), Gothic 𐌱𐌹𐌵𐌹𐌼𐌰𐌽 (biqiman, to come upon one, befall). Sense of "befit, suit" due to influence from Middle English cweme, icweme, see queem.


  • (UK) IPA(key): /bɪˈkʌm/, /bəˈkʌm/
    (Northern England) IPA(key): /bɪˈkʊm/, /bəˈkʊm/
  • (US) IPA(key): /bəˈkʌm/, /biˈkʌm/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ʌm
  • Hyphenation: be‧come


become (third-person singular simple present becomes, present participle becoming, simple past became, past participle become or (rare, dialectal) becomen)

  1. (copulative) begin to be; turn into. [from 12th c.]
    Synonyms: get, turn, go
    She became a doctor when she was 25.
    The weather will become cold after the sun goes down.
    • 1897 December (indicated as 1898), Winston Churchill, chapter 8, in The Celebrity: An Episode, New York, N.Y.: The Macmillan Company; London: Macmillan & Co., Ltd., OCLC 222716698:
      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; for, even after she had conquered her love for the Celebrity, the mortification of having been jilted by him remained.
    • 2012 May 13, Alistair Magowan, “Sunderland 0-1 Man Utd”, in BBC Sport:
      Then, as the Sunderland fans' cheers bellowed around the stadium, United's title bid was over when it became apparent City had pinched a last-gasp winner to seal their first title in 44 years.
    • 2013 May-June, William E. Conner, “An Acoustic Arms Race”, in American Scientist, volume 101, number 3, page 206-7:
      Earless ghost swift moths become “invisible” to echolocating bats by forming mating clusters close (less than half a meter) above vegetation and effectively blending into the clutter of echoes that the bat receives from the leaves and stems around them.
  2. (copulative) To come about; happen; come into being; arise. [from 12th c.]
    What became of him after he was let go?
    It hath becomen so that many a man had to sterve.
  3. (transitive) To be proper for; to beseem. [from 13th c.]
    • 1610-11?, Shakespeare, The Tempest, Act III, scene ii:
      Ay, lord, she will become thy bed, I warrant,
      And bring thee forth brave brood.
    • 1892, Ambrose Bierce, “The Applicant,” in The Collected Works of Ambrose Bierce, Volume II: In the Midst of Life (Tales of Soldiers and Civilians), New York: Gordian Press, 1966,[1]
      He was hatted, booted, overcoated, and umbrellaed, as became a person who was about to expose himself to the night and the storm on an errand of charity []
    • 1930, Duff Cooper, Talleyrand, Folio Society, 2010, p.7:
      His ordination [] enabled him to be independent of his parents, and to afford a manner of living which became his rank rather than his calling.
  4. (transitive) Of an adornment, piece of clothing etc.: to look attractive on (someone). [from 14th c.]
    That dress really becomes you.
  5. (intransitive, obsolete) To arrive, come (to a place). [9th–18th c.]

Usage notes[edit]

  • In older forms of English, when the pronoun thou was in active use, and verbs used -est for distinct second-person singular indicative forms, the verb become had the form becomest, and had becamest for its past tense.
  • Similarly, when the ending -eth was in active use for third-person singular present indicative forms, the form becometh was used.