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[bih-hoof] /bɪˈhuf/
noun, plural behooves
[bih-hoovz] /bɪˈhuvz/ (Show IPA)
use; advantage; benefit:
The money was spent for his own behoof.
Origin of behoof
before 1000; Middle English behove, Old English behōf profit, need; cognate with Dutch behoef, German Behuf


[bih-hoov] /bɪˈhuv/ (chiefly in impersonal use)
verb (used with object), behooved, behooving.
to be necessary or proper for, as for moral or ethical considerations; be incumbent on:
It behooves the court to weigh evidence impartially.
to be worthwhile to, as for personal profit or advantage:
It would behoove you to be nicer to those who could help you.
verb (used without object), behooved, behooving.
Archaic. to be needful, proper, or due:
Perseverance is a quality that behooves in a scholar.
before 900; Middle English behoven, Old English behōfian to need (behōf behoof + -ian infinitive suffix)
2. benefit, advantage, serve, better, advance; suit, befit, beseem. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for behooves
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • And so, my lads, it behooves us to be cautious with a very great caution.

    The Rock of Chickamauga Joseph A. Altsheler
  • It behooves me all the more to see to it that I am not duped in the end.

    Casanova's Homecoming Arthur Schnitzler
  • It behooves the materialists to use language with more precision and accuracy than this.

    Life: Its True Genesis R. W. Wright
  • We know nothing about it, and, therefore, it behooves us to say nothing.

    Homeward Bound James Fenimore Cooper
  • It behooves us, gentlemen, to think first of the cities of our King.

    Sir Henry Morgan, Buccaneer Cyrus Townsend Brady
  • It behooves us then to acquaint ourselves with these new aspects of the human soul.

    Chinese Painters Raphael Petrucci
  • For so it behooves a modern parent to behave in the presence of his children.

    Red Cap Tales Samuel Rutherford Crockett
  • It behooves us to keep close track of our herds and mark them carefully.

    The Story of Wool Sara Ware Bassett
British Dictionary definitions for behooves


noun (pl) -hooves
(rare) advantage or profit
Word Origin
Old English behōf; related to Middle High German behuof something useful; see behove
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 behooves



c.1200, "use, benefit, advantage;" Old English had bihoflic "useful," implying *bihof "advantage, utility;" from Proto-Germanic *bi-hof "that which binds, requirement, obligation" (cf. Old Frisian bihof "advantage," Dutch behoef, Middle High German bihuof "useful thing," German Behuf "benefit, use, advantage"). In the common Germanic compound, the first element, likely intensive, is cognate with be- and the second with Old English hof, past tense of hebban "to raise" (see heave (v.)). The original sense is perhaps, then, "taking up (for oneself)."



Old English behofian "to have need of, have use for," verbal form of the ancient compound word represented by behoof.

Historically, it rimes with move, prove, but being now mainly a literary word, it is generally made to rime with rove, grove, by those who know it only in books. [OED]

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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