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[bih-kweeth , -kweeth] /bɪˈkwið, -ˈkwiθ/
verb (used with object)
to dispose of (personal property, especially money) by last will:
She bequeathed her half of the company to her niece.
to hand down; pass on.
Obsolete. to commit; entrust.
Origin of bequeath
before 1000; Middle English bequethen, Old English becwethan (be- be- + cwethan to say (see quoth), cognate with Old High German quedan, Gothic qithan)
Related forms
bequeathable, adjective
bequeathal, bequeathment, noun
bequeather, noun
unbequeathable, adjective
unbequeathed, adjective
1. will, impart, leave, bestow, grant, consign. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for bequeath
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • In other words, they bequeath us a treasure which we are free to enrich with our own discoveries.

  • The father was even able to bequeath his unmarried daughters by will.

    The Truth About Woman C. Gasquoine Hartley
  • Temple women often adopt orphans, to whom they bequeath their possessions.

    Lotus Buds

    Amy Carmichael
  • Let parents, then, bequeath to their children not a heap of riches, but the spirit of reverence.

    Laws Plato
  • I bequeath him to you who already have done so much for him.

    The Lion's Skin Rafael Sabatini
  • To posterity I bequeath the recognition of these poor captives.

  • And now, together with my parental blessing, I bequeath to you this doll.

    Russian Fairy Tales W. R. S. Ralston
British Dictionary definitions for bequeath


/bɪˈkwiːð; -ˈkwiːθ/
verb (transitive)
(law) to dispose of (property, esp personal property) by will Compare devise (sense 2)
to hand down; pass on, as to following generations
Derived Forms
bequeather, noun
bequeathal, noun
Word Origin
Old English becwethan; related to Old Norse kvetha to speak, Gothic qithan, Old High German quethan
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 bequeath

Old English becweðan "to say, speak to, exhort, blame," also "leave by will;" from be- + cweðan "to say," from Proto-Germanic *kwithan, from PIE *gwet- "to say, speak."

Original sense of "say, utter" died out 13c., leaving legal sense of "transfer by will." Closely related to bequest. "An old word kept alive in wills" [OED 1st ed.]. Old English bequeðere meant "interpreter, translator." Related: Bequeathed; bequeathing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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