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From Middle English behoof, behof, from Old English behōf, from Proto-Germanic *bihōfą, from *bihafaną (to get, receive). Akin to Dutch behoef, German Behuf (necessity), Danish behov (requirement) (from Middle Low German)[1]. Related to have and heave.



behoof (countable and uncountable, plural behoofs)

  1. (dated) That which is advantageous to a person; behalf, interest, advantage, profit, benefit.
    • c. 1590, William Shakespeare, Henry VI, Part 2, Act IV, Scene 7,[1]
      This tongue hath parley’d unto foreign kings
      For your behoof,—
    • 1676, Joseph Glanvill, Essays on Several Important Subjects in Philosophy and Religion, London: John Baker & Henry Mortlock, Essay 7, “The Summe of My Lord Bacon’s NEW ATLANTIS,” p. 58,[2]
      [] very useful for a Divine, and like to be of more behoof to him, than all the tedious volumes of the Schoolmen []
    • 1759, Laurence Sterne, A Political Romance, York, p. 7,[3]
      The great Watch-Coat was purchased and given above two hundred Years ago, by the Lord of the Manor, to this Parish-Church, to the sole Use and Behoof of the poor Sextons thereof, and their Successors, for ever, to be worn up them respectively in winterly cold Nights []
    • 1852, William Makepeace Thackeray, Men’s Wives, New York: Appleton, “The Ravenswing,” Chapter 4, p. 119,[4]
      Poor Larkins had no one to make epigrams in her behoof; her mother was at home tending the younger ones, her father abroad following the studies of his profession, she had but one protector, as she thought, and that one was Baroski.
    • 1919, Saki, ‘The Penance’, The Toys of Peace, Penguin 2000 (Complete Short Stories), p. 423:
      They had parents in India—that much Octavian had learned in the neighbourhood; the children, beyond grouping themselves garment-wise into sexes, a girl and two boys, carried their life-story no further on his behoof.
    • 2000, Praveen Kumar, Policing the Police:
      Often fightings broke out among the contenders in the same post for the loaves of power and other behoofs and such matters made headlines in newspapers.


Usage notes[edit]

  • Mainly found in phrases like "on (the/his/our/etc) behoof (of)".

Related terms[edit]



  1. ^ Etymology in the ODS: "jf. ty. Behuf, eng. behoof"