Dictionary > English Dictionary > Definition, synonym and antonym of behave
Meaning of behave by Wiktionary Dictionary



    From late Middle English behaven ( “to restrain” ), 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” ) .


    • IPA: /bɪˈheɪv/
    • Rhymes: -eɪv


    behave ( third-person singular simple present behaves present participle behaving, simple past and past participle behaved )

    1. ( reflexive ) To conduct ( oneself ) well, or in a given way .
      You need to behave yourself, young lady .
    2. ( 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 .
    3. ( obsolete, transitive ) To conduct, manage, regulate ( something ).
      • 1590, Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene, II.iii:
        who his limbs with labours, and his mind / Behaues with cares, cannot so easie mis .
    4. ( intransitive ) To act in a polite or proper way .
      His mother threatened to spank him if he didn't behave .

    Derived terms

    Related terms

    External links

    • behave in Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam, 1913
    • behave in The Century Dictionary, The Century Co., New York, 1911

Explanation of behave by Wordnet Dictionary


    1. behave in a certain manner

    2. Don't behave like a fool
    3. behave in a certain manner

    4. behave well or properly

    5. The children must learn to behave

    Definition of behave by GCIDE Dictionary


    1. Behave v. t. [imp. & p. p. Behaved ( ); p. pr. & vb. n. Behaving.] [AS. behabban to surround, restrain, detain ( akin to G. gehaben ( obs. ) to have, sich gehaben to behave or carry one's self ); pref. be- + habban to have. See Have, v. t. ]
      1. To manage or govern in point of behavior; to discipline; to handle; to restrain. [Obs.]

      He did behave his anger ere 't was spent. Shak.

      2. To carry; to conduct; to comport; to manage; to bear; -- used reflexively.

      Those that behaved themselves manfully. 2 Macc. ii. 21.

    2. Behave, v. i. To act; to conduct; to bear or carry one's self; as, “to behave well or ill”.

      ☞ This verb is often used colloquially without an adverb of manner; as, if he does not behave, he will be punished. It is also often applied to inanimate objects; as, the ship behaved splendidly.