behave[bē hāv′, bi-]
A woman teaching her dog to behave.
- The definition of behave means to act in a certain manner to control yourself so your actions are acceptable and considered appropriate by society.
An example of behave is when you do what you are told at school, using your indoor voice and following all directions.
verbbe·haved, be·hav·ing, be·haves
- a. To conduct oneself in a specified way, especially in relation to others; exhibit behavior: The child behaved badly at the party.b. To conduct oneself in a proper way: I told the child to behave.
- To act, react, function, or perform in a particular way: This fabric behaves well even in hot weather.
- To conduct (oneself) properly: Did you behave yourself at the party?
- To conduct (oneself) in a specified way: The witness behaved herself with great calmness.
Origin of behaveMiddle English behaven : be-, be- + haven, to have; see have.
(third-person singular simple present behaves, present participle behaving, simple past and past participle behaved)
- (reflexive) To conduct (oneself) well, or in a given way.
- You need to behave yourself, young lady.
- (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.
- 1590, Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene, II.iii:
- who his limbs with labours, and his mind / Behaues with cares, cannot so easie mis.
- (intransitive) To act in a polite or proper way.
- His mother threatened to spank him if he didn't behave.
From Middle English behaven, bihabben (“to restrain, behave”), 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”).