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[bih-heyv] /bɪˈheɪv/
verb (used without object), behaved, behaving.
to act in a particular way; conduct or comport oneself or itself:
The ship behaves well.
to act properly:
Did the child behave?
to act or react under given circumstances:
This plastic behaves strangely under extreme heat or cold.
verb (used with object), behaved, behaving.
to conduct or comport (oneself) in a proper manner:
Sit quietly and behave yourself.
Origin of behave
late Middle English
1400-50; late Middle English behaven (reflexive). See be-, have
Related forms
unbehaving, adjective
well-behaved, adjective
1. perform, acquit oneself, deport oneself. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for behave
  • Articles in this series are examining how a deluge of data can affect the way people think and behave.
  • They have an inability to control their emotions or to behave rationally.
  • Capture those similarities in a model and it should be possible to predict how a crowd will behave.
  • Even a poster with eyes on it changes how people behave.
  • It has been the writer's job since ancient times to describe how people behave.
  • Blooms are produced all season long and plants behave as perennials where frosts are nonexistent or light.
  • People's senses of who they are shape their ideas about how they, and others, should behave.
  • The moral, then, is that people's sense of right and wrong influences the way they feel and behave.
  • Critics say the ball is too light and aerodynamic, and it may behave unpredictably and create problems for goalkeepers.
  • The software works by creating a model of how players normally behave during a game.
British Dictionary definitions for behave


(intransitive) to act or function in a specified or usual way
to conduct (oneself) in a specified way: he behaved badly towards her
to conduct (oneself) properly or as desired: the child behaved himself all day
Word Origin
C15: see be-, have
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 behave

early 15c., from be- intensive prefix + have in sense of "to have or bear (oneself) in a particular way, comport" (cf. German sich behaben, French se porter). Cognate Old English compound behabban meant "to contain," and alternatively the modern sense of behave might have evolved from behabban via a notion of "self-restraint." Related: Behaved; behaving.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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