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From Middle English, from Old English behǣs (vow, promise), from Proto-Germanic *bi (be-), *haisiz (command), from *haitaną (to command). Final -t by analogy with other similar words in -t. Related to Old English behātan (to command, promise), Middle Low German beheit, behēt (a promise). Compare also hest (command), hight.



behest (plural behests)

  1. A command, bidding; sometimes also, an authoritative request; now usually in the phrase at the behest of. [from 12th c.]
    • Sir Walter Scott
      to do his master's high behest
    • 1977, translation of Geoffrey Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales, Penguin Classics, p. 278:
      Paul did not dare pronounce, let matters rest, / His master having given him no behest.
    • 2007, Thomas Pynchon, Against the Day:
      And young Mr. Fleetwood Vibe was here at the behest of his father, Wall Street eminence Scarsdale Vibe, who was effectively bankrolling the Expedition.
    • 2009, “What a waste”, The Economist, 15 Oct 2009:
      the House of Representatives will try to water down even this feeble effort at the behest of the unions whose members enjoy some of the most lavish policies.
    • 2011, Owen Gibson, The Guardian, 24 Mar 2011:
      The Manchester United manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, is to meet with the BBC director general, Mark Thompson, at the behest of the Premier League in a bid to resolve their long-running feud.
  2. (obsolete) A vow; a promise.
    • Paston
      The time is come that I should send it her, if I keep the behest that I have made.



behest (third-person singular simple present behests, present participle behesting, simple past and past participle behested)

  1. (obsolete) To promise; vow.