From Middle English behoven, bihoven (“to be necessary, requisite; to be compelled or required (to do something)”), from Old English behōfian (“to need; to be necessary”), from Proto-Germanic *bihōfōną (“advantage, behoof, profit; need”), ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *keh₂p- (“to grab, seize”). The word is cognate with Old Frisian bihōvia (“to need”), Dutch behoeven (“to need”), obsolete German behufen (cf. Behuf), Danish behøve (“to need”), Norwegian behøve (“to need”), Swedish behöva (“to have use for, to need”).
- (Received Pronunciation) IPA(key): /bɪˈhəʊv/
Audio (Southern England) (file)
- (General American) IPA(key): /biˈhoʊv/
- Rhymes: -əʊv
- Hyphenation: be‧hove
- (transitive, formal) To befit, to suit.
- 1711 December 26, “Devide et impera. Divide and Rule.”, in The Spectator, number 258; republished in A[lexander] Chalmers, The Spectator: With a Historical and Biographical Preface. [...] In Eight Volumes, volume IV, Boston, Mass.: Little, Brown and Company, 1856, →OCLC, pages 140–141:
- [W]here therefore public diversions are tolerated, it behoves persons of distinction, with their power and example, to preside over them in such a manner as to check any thing that tends to the corruption of manners, or which is too mean or trivial for the entertainment of reasonable creatures.
- 1803 April 21, “Crito” [pseudonym; Thomas Jefferson], “Letter, &c., on the Doctrine of Jesus, by an Eminent American Statesman [written to Benjamin Rush]”, in The Monthly Repository of Theology and General Literature, volume XI, number CXXX, Hackney, London: Printed for the editor, by Ann Stower, published by Sherwood, Neely and Jones, Paternoster Row, published October 1816, →OCLC, letter II, page 574, column 2:
- It behoves every man, who values liberty of conscience for himself, to resist invasions of it in the case of others; it behoves him too, in his own case, to give no example of concession, betraying the common right of independent opinion, by answering questions of faith, which laws have left between God and himself.
- 2002 October 21, Donald Macintyre, “Even at this late hour, the Government can avoid this damaging strike: Professor Bain should be urged to burn the midnight oil and bring out his report before the strikes start to threaten lives”, in The Independent, London, archived from the original on 6 April 2018:
- True, it ill behoves national newspaper columnists and MPs, let alone Prime Ministers, to start pontificating about how men – and hitherto a too tiny handful of women – shouldn't be paid £30,000 a year to risk their lives by going into burning buildings when everybody else is leaving them.
- (transitive, formal) To be necessary for (someone).
- 1859, Charles Dickens, “The Fellow of Delicacy”, in A Tale of Two Cities, London: Chapman and Hall, […], →OCLC, book II (The Golden Thread), page 93:
- Accordingly, Mr. Stryver inaugurated the Long Vacation with a formal proposal to take Miss Manette to Vauxhall Gardens; that failing, to Ranelagh; that unaccountably failing too, it behoved him to present himself in Soho, and there declare his noble mind.
- (transitive, formal) To be in the best interest of; to benefit.
- 1866, John W. Walton, Dora; or, The Baron’s Ward. A Drama, in Three Acts, London: Printed by Walter Brettell, 336A, Oxford Street, →OCLC, act I, scene iii, page 21:
- Seeing by the late alliance termed the Rhenish Confederacy, that Louis, King of France, has the most cunning and diabolic intentions on the Imperial Crown, thereby behoving all Germans to unite in a band of brotherhood.
- (intransitive, formal) To be needful, meet or becoming.
- 1560, [John Knox et al.], “Confessio Fidei Scoticana I. The Scotch Confession of Faith. A.D. 1560.”, in The Creeds of Christendom, with a History and Critical Notes. [...] In Three Volumes, 4th revised and enlarged edition, volume III (The Evangelical Protestant Creeds, with Translations), New York, N.Y.: Harper & Brothers, Franklin Square, published 1877, →OCLC, Art. VIII (Of Election), page 445, column 1:
- It behooved that the Sonne of God suld descend unto us, and tak himselfe a bodie of our bodie, flesh of our flesh, and bone of our bones, and so become the Mediator betwixt God and man, giving power to so many as beleeve in him, to be the sonnes of God; […]
- behoove (chiefly US)