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be

[bee; unstressed bee, bi] /bi; unstressed bi, bɪ/
verb (used without object), present singular 1st person am, 2nd are or (Archaic) art, 3rd is, present plural are; past singular 1st person was, 2nd were or (Archaic) wast or wert, 3rd was, past plural were; present subjunctive be; past subjunctive singular 1st person were, 2nd were or (Archaic) wert, 3rd were; past subjunctive plural were; past participle been; present participle being.
1.
to exist or live:
Shakespeare's “To be or not to be” is the ultimate question.
2.
to take place; happen; occur:
The wedding was last week.
3.
to occupy a place or position:
The book is on the table.
4.
to continue or remain as before:
Let things be.
5.
to belong; attend; befall:
May good fortune be with you.
6.
(used as a copula to connect the subject with its predicate adjective, or predicate nominative, in order to describe, identify, or amplify the subject):
Martha is tall. John is president. This is she.
7.
(used as a copula to introduce or form interrogative or imperative sentences):
Is that right? Be quiet! Don't be facetious.
auxiliary verb, present singular 1st person am, 2nd are or (Archaic) art, 3rd is, present plural are; past singular 1st person was, 2nd were or (Archaic) wast or wert, 3rd was, past plural were; present subjunctive be; past subjunctive singular 1st person were, 2nd were or (Archaic) wert, 3rd were; past subjunctive plural were; past participle been; present participle being.
8.
(used with the present participle of another verb to form the progressive tense):
I am waiting.
9.
(used with the present participle or infinitive of the principal verb to indicate future action):
She is visiting there next week. He is to see me today.
10.
(used with the past participle of another verb to form the passive voice):
The date was fixed. It must be done.
11.
(used in archaic or literary constructions with some intransitive verbs to form the perfect tense):
He is come. Agamemnon to the wars is gone.
Origin
900
before 900; Middle English been, Old English bēon (bēo- (akin to Old Frisian, Old High German bim, German bin, Old Saxon bium, biom (I) am, Old English, Old High German, Old Saxon būan, Old Norse būa reside, Latin fuī (I) have been, Greek phy- grow, become, Old Irish boí (he) was, Sanskrit bhávati (he) becomes, is, Lithuanian búti to be, OCS byti, Persian būd was)) + -n infinitive suffix. See am, is, are1, was, were
Can be confused
be, bee.
Usage note
See me.

Be

Symbol, Chemistry
1.

be-

1.
a native English prefix formerly used in the formation of verbs:
become, besiege, bedaub, befriend.
Origin
Middle English, Old English, unstressed form of by

Bé.

1.

B/E

1.
bill of exchange.
Also, b.e.

B.E.

1.
Bachelor of Education.
2.
Bachelor of Engineering.
3.
Bank of England.
4.
bill of exchange.
5.
Board of Education.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples from the web for be
  • They took about twelve days to build depending on how big the structure was going to be.
  • There are also regulations on the size a basketball should be.
  • However, he does not immediately show what this principle might be.
  • Developmental models are often computational, but they do not necessarily need to be.
  • He could never have imagined how influential his honest techniques would turn out to be.
  • The colder the winter, the larger the winter cluster and food stores need to be.
  • It was the prototype of what burnham and his colleagues thought a city should be.
British Dictionary definitions for be

be1

/biː; unstressed /
verb (intransitive) (pres. sing. 1st pers) am (2nd pers) are (3rd pers) is (present:pl) are (past:singular:1st_person) was (2nd pers) were (3rd pers) was (past:plural) were (pres. part) being (past part) been
1.
to have presence in the realm of perceived reality; exist; live: I think, therefore I am, not all that is can be understood
2.
(used in the perfect or past perfect tenses only) to pay a visit; go: have you been to Spain?
3.
to take place; occur: my birthday was last Thursday
4.
(copula) used as a linking verb between the subject of a sentence and its noun or adjective complement or complementing phrase. In this case be expresses the relationship of either essential or incidental equivalence or identity (John is a man; John is a musician) or specifies an essential or incidental attribute (honey is sweet; Susan is angry). It is also used with an adverbial complement to indicate a relationship of location in space or time (Bill is at the office; the dance is on Saturday)
5.
(takes a present participle) forms the progressive present tense: the man is running
6.
(takes a past participle) forms the passive voice of all transitive verbs and (archaically) certain intransitive ones: a good film is being shown on television tonight, I am done
7.
(takes an infinitive) expresses intention, expectation, supposition, or obligation: the president is to arrive at 9.30, you are not to leave before I say so
8.
(takes a past participle) forms the perfect or past perfect tense of certain intransitive verbs of motion, such as go or come: the last train is gone
9.
be that as it may, the facts concerning (something) are of no importance
Word Origin
Old English bēon; related to Old High German bim am, Latin fui I have been, Greek phuein to bring forth, Sanskrit bhavati he is

be2

abbreviation
1.
Belgium

Be

Chemical symbol
1.
beryllium

BE

abbreviation
1.
bill of exchange
2.
(in the US) Board of Education
3.
Bachelor of Education
4.
Bachelor of Engineering

B/E

abbreviation
1.
bill of exchange

abbreviation
1.
Baumé

be-

prefix
1.
(from nouns) to surround completely; cover on all sides: befog
2.
(from nouns) to affect completely or excessively: bedazzle
3.
(from nouns) to consider as or cause to be: befool, befriend
4.
(from nouns) to provide or cover with: bejewel
5.
(from verbs) at, for, against, on, or over: bewail, berate
Word Origin
Old English be-, bi-, unstressed variant of by
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for be
v.

Old English beon, beom, bion "be, exist, come to be, become, happen," from Proto-Germanic *biju- "I am, I will be." This "b-root" is from PIE root *bheue- "to be, exist, grow, come into being," and in addition to the words in English it yielded German present first and second person singular (bin, bist, from Old High German bim "I am," bist "thou art"), Latin perfective tenses of esse (fui "I was," etc.), Old Church Slavonic byti "be," Greek phu- "become," Old Irish bi'u "I am," Lithuanian bu'ti "to be," Russian byt' "to be," etc. It also is behind Sanskrit bhavah "becoming," bhavati "becomes, happens," bhumih "earth, world."

The modern verb to be in its entirety represents the merger of two once-distinct verbs, the "b-root" represented by be and the am/was verb, which was itself a conglomerate. Roger Lass ("Old English") describes the verb as "a collection of semantically related paradigm fragments," while Weekley calls it "an accidental conglomeration from the different Old English dial[ect]s." It is the most irregular verb in Modern English and the most common. Collective in all Germanic languages, it has eight different forms in Modern English:

BE (infinitive, subjunctive, imperative)
AM (present 1st person singular)
ARE (present 2nd person singular and all plural)
IS (present 3rd person singular)
WAS (past 1st and 3rd persons singular)
WERE (past 2nd person singular, all plural; subjunctive)
BEING (progressive & present participle; gerund)
BEEN (perfect participle).

The paradigm in Old English was:

SING. PL.
1st pres. ic eom
ic beo
we sind(on)
we beoð
2nd pres. þu eart
þu bist
ge sind(on)
ge beoð
3rd pres. he is
he bið
hie sind(on)
hie beoð
1st pret. ic wæs we wæron
2nd pret. þu wære ge waeron
3rd pret. heo wæs hie wæron
1st pret. subj. ic wære we wæren
2nd pret. subj. þu wære ge wæren
3rd pret. subj. Egcferð wære hie wæren


The "b-root" had no past tense in Old English, but often served as future tense of am/was. In 13c. it took the place of the infinitive, participle and imperative forms of am/was. Later its plural forms (we beth, ye ben, they be) became standard in Middle English and it made inroads into the singular (I be, thou beest, he beth), but forms of are claimed this turf in the 1500s and replaced be in the plural. For the origin and evolution of the am/was branches of this tangle, see am and was.
That but this blow Might be the be all, and the end all. ["Macbeth" I.vii.5]

be-

word-forming element with a wide range of meaning: "thoroughly, completely; to make, cause seem; to provide with; at, on, to, for," from Old English be- "on all sides" (also used to make transitive verbs and as a privative or intensive prefix), from weak form of Old English bi "by," probably cognate with second syllable of Greek amphi, Latin ambi and originally meaning "about" (see ambi-).

This sense naturally drifted into intensive (cf. bespatter "spatter about," therefore "spatter very much"). Be- can also be privative (cf. behead), causative, or have just about any sense required. The prefix was productive 16c.-17c. in forming useful words, many of which have not survived, e.g. bethwack "to thrash soundly" (1550s), betongue "to assail in speech, to scold" (1630s).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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be in Medicine

Be
The symbol for the element beryllium.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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be in Science
Be  
The symbol for beryllium.
beryllium
  (bə-rĭl'ē-əm)   
Symbol Be
A hard, lightweight, steel-gray metallic element of the alkaline-earth group, found in various minerals, especially beryl. It has a high melting point and is corrosion-resistant. Beryllium is used to make sturdy, lightweight alloys and aerospace structural materials. It is also used as a neutron moderator in nuclear reactors. Atomic number 4; atomic weight 9.0122; melting point 1,278°C; boiling point 2,970°C; specific gravity 1.848; valence 2. See Periodic Table.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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be in Technology

networking
The country code for Belgium.
(1999-01-27)

The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010 http://foldoc.org
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Related Abbreviations for be

be

Belorusian

Be

  1. beryllium
  2. excess burst

BE

  1. Bachelor of Education
  2. Bachelor of Engineering
  3. barium enema
  4. board eligible
  5. Board of Education

B/E

  1. bill of entry
  2. bill of exchange

Baumé scale
The American Heritage® Abbreviations Dictionary, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Idioms and Phrases with be
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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Encyclopedia Article for be

any of the hereditary occupational groups in early Japan (c. 5th-mid-7th century), established to provide specific economic services and a continuous inflow of revenue for the uji, or lineage groups. Each be was thus subsidiary to one of the uji into which all of Japanese society was then divided, and each kakibe, or worker, was effectively owned by the chief of his uji. Most be were agricultural units, producing rice for themselves and their superiors, but some engaged in crafts, fishing, or specific court functions. Those that acted as scribes, interpreters, diviners, or reciters for the court were national organizations; most other types of be were local

Learn more about be with a free trial on Britannica.com
Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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