- The definition of behalf means in place of or for someone or something.
An example of behalf is a lawyer acting for her client.
Origin of behalfMiddle English in phrase on (mi) behalfe, on (my) side ; from Old English be, by + healf, half, side
in behalf ofor on behalf of
on behalf of
Origin of behalfMiddle English, from Old English be healfe, by (his) side : be, by, at; see by1 + healf, side, half; see half. Usage Note: A traditional rule holds that in behalf of and on behalf of have distinct meanings. According to this rule, in behalf of means “for the benefit of,” as in We raised money in behalf of the earthquake victims, while its counterpart on behalf of means “as the agent of, on the part of,” as in The guardian signed the contract on behalf of the child. But as the two meanings are quite close, the phrases are often used interchangeably, even by reputable writers. Statistically, on behalf of is used far more frequently than in behalf of, and in fact the Usage Panel prefers on behalf of for both meanings. In our 2004 survey, 87 percent of the Panel preferred on behalf of in the sentence The lawyer spoke to the media (in behalf of/on behalf of) his client, conforming to the traditional rule for using on behalf of. But some 75 percent also preferred on behalf of in the sentence After sitting silently as one complaint after another was raised, he finally spoke up (in behalf of/on behalf of) his kid's coach, where the speaker is less of a spokesperson than an ad-hoc defender, and so the meaning “in defense of, for the benefit of” is a better fit, and the traditional rule therefore would require in behalf of. All this suggests that on behalf of may be generally supplanting in behalf of.
(plural behalfs or behalves)
- Advantage; favor; stead; benefit; interest; profit; support; defense; vindication.
From Middle English bihalve (“nearby”), from healfe (“side”)