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 Maccabees 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).
- (intransitive) To act in a polite or proper way.
His mother threatened to spank him if he didn't behave.
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