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From Middle English bestowen, bistowen, equivalent to be-(on, over, about) +‎ stow. Cognate to Dutch bestouwen, bestuwen.



bestow (third-person singular simple present bestows, present participle bestowing, simple past and past participle bestowed)

  1. (transitive) To lay up in store; deposit for safe keeping; stow; place.
    • 1611, King James Bible, Luke 12:17:
      And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits.
    • 1977, J.R.R. Tolkien, Of the Rings of Power, HarperCollins, page 358:
      Of the Three Rings that the Elves had preserved unsullied no open word was ever spoken among the Wise, and few even of the Eldar knew where they were bestowed.
  2. (transitive) To lodge, or find quarters for; provide with accommodation.
    • 1838, Ben Jonson, The works of Ben Jonson:
      Well, my masters, I'll leave him with you; now I see him bestowed, I'll go look for my goods, and Numps.
  3. (Can we verify(+) this sense?) (transitive) To dispose of.
    • 1615-17, Thomas Middleton et al., The Widow, in The Ancient British drama, edited by Robert Dodsley, Sir Walter Scott, published 1810:
      Here are blank warrants of all dispositions; give me but the name and nature of your malefactor, and I'll bestow him according to his merits.
  4. (transitive) To give; confer; impart gratuitously; present something to someone as a gift or honour.
    Medals were bestowed on the winning team.
    • 2008, Illiad,, “The Large Hadron Collider Game
      CERN bestows slush fund on the LHC. Take all pennies from the CERN space.
    • 1831, Mary Shelley, Frankenstein
      Soft tears again bedewed my cheeks, and I even raised my humid eyes with thankfulness towards the blessed sun which bestowed such joy upon me.
  5. (transitive) To give in marriage.
    • 1590-92, William Shakespeare, The Taming of the Shrew, Act 1, Scene 1, lines 50-51:
      That is not to bestow my youngest daughter/ before I have a husband for the elder.
    • 1709, Joseph Addison, The Tatler, number 75:
      I could have bestowed her upon a fine gentleman.
  6. (transitive) To apply; make use of; use; employ.
    • 1887, John Marston, Arthur Henry Bullen, The Works of John Marston:
      [...] I determine to bestow Some time in learning languages abroad; [...]
  7. (Can we verify(+) this sense?) (transitive, obsolete) To behave or deport.

Derived terms[edit]