View synonyms for be



[ bee; unstressed bee, bi ]

verb (used without object)

past singular 1st person: waspresent plural: are3rd: is3rd: waspast subjunctive singular 1st person: were2nd: were or (Archaic) wast or wert2nd: are or (Archaic) artpast plural: werepresent singular 1st person: ampresent subjunctive: bepast subjunctive plural: were2nd: were or (Archaic) wertpresent participle: being3rd: werepast participle: been
  1. to exist or live:

    Shakespeare's “To be or not to be” is the ultimate question.

  2. to take place; happen; occur:

    The wedding was last week.

  3. to occupy a place or position:

    The book is on the table.

  4. to continue or remain as before:

    Let things be.

  5. to belong; attend; befall:

    May good fortune be with you.

  6. (used as a copula to connect the subject with its predicate adjective, or predicate nominative, in order to describe, identify, or amplify the subject):

    Martha is tall. John is president. This is she.

  7. (used as a copula to introduce or form interrogative or imperative sentences):

    Is that right? Be quiet! Don't be facetious.

auxiliary verb

present subjunctive: bepast subjunctive plural: werepresent singular 1st person: ampast plural: were2nd: are or (Archaic) art3rd: is2nd: were or (Archaic) wast or wertpresent plural: arepast subjunctive singular 1st person: werepast participle: been3rd: was3rd: were2nd: were or (Archaic) wertpast singular 1st person: waspresent participle: being
  1. (used with the present participle of another verb to form the progressive tense):

    I am waiting.

  2. (used with the present participle or infinitive of the principal verb to indicate future action):

    She is visiting there next week. He is to see me today.

  3. (used with the past participle of another verb to form the passive voice):

    The date was fixed. It must be done.

  4. (used in archaic or literary constructions with some intransitive verbs to form the perfect tense):

    He is come. Agamemnon to the wars is gone.

verb (used with object)

3rd: was3rd: ispresent singular 1st person: ampast singular 1st person: was2nd: are2nd: werepast plural: werepresent plural: are
  1. Informal. to say, declare, think, or feel (usually used to introduce reported speech or thought):

    So I'm walking down my street yesterday, and I'm “Why is there a crowd in front of my house?”


Symbol, Chemistry.
  1. beryllium.



abbreviation for

  1. Baumé.


or b.e.
  1. bill of exchange.


  1. a native English prefix formerly used in the formation of verbs:

    become, besiege, bedaub, befriend.



abbreviation for

  1. Bachelor of Education.
  2. Bachelor of Engineering.
  3. Bank of England.
  4. bill of exchange.
  5. Board of Education.



abbreviation for

  1. bill of exchange
  2. (in the US) Board of Education
  3. Bachelor of Education
  4. Bachelor of Engineering


abbreviation for

  1. Baumé



the internet domain name for

  1. Belgium



the chemical symbol for

  1. beryllium



abbreviation for

  1. bill of exchange



/ biː; bɪ /


  1. to have presence in the realm of perceived reality; exist; live

    I think, therefore I am

    not all that is can be understood

  2. used in the perfect or past perfect tenses only to pay a visit; go

    have you been to Spain?

  3. to take place; occur

    my birthday was last Thursday

  4. copula used as a linking verb between the subject of a sentence and its noun or adjective complement or complementing phrase. In this case be expresses the relationship of either essential or incidental equivalence or identity ( John is a man; John is a musician ) or specifies an essential or incidental attribute ( honey is sweet; Susan is angry ). It is also used with an adverbial complement to indicate a relationship of location in space or time ( Bill is at the office; the dance is on Saturday )
  5. takes a present participle forms the progressive present tense

    the man is running

  6. takes a past participle forms the passive voice of all transitive verbs and (archaically) certain intransitive ones

    I am done

    a good film is being shown on television tonight

  7. takes an infinitive expresses intention, expectation, supposition, or obligation

    the president is to arrive at 9.30

    you are not to leave before I say so

  8. takes a past participle forms the perfect or past perfect tense of certain intransitive verbs of motion, such as go or come

    the last train is gone

  9. be that as it may
    the facts concerning (something) are of no importance



prefix forming verbs and verbal derivatives

  1. from nouns to surround completely; cover on all sides


  2. from nouns to affect completely or excessively


  3. from nouns to consider as or cause to be



  4. from nouns to provide or cover with


  5. from verbs at, for, against, on, or over



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Grammar Note

See me.

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Word History and Origins

Origin of be1

First recorded before 900; Middle English been, Old English bēon “to be” (akin to Old Frisian, Old High German bim, German bin, Old Saxon bium, biom “(I) am,” Old English, Old High German, Old Saxon būan, Old Norse būa “reside,” Latin fuī “(I) have been,“ Greek phy- “grow, become,” Old Irish boí “(he) was,” Sanskrit bhávati “(he) becomes, is,” Lithuanian búti “to be,” Old Church Slavonic byti, Persian būdan “to be”); am, is, are 1, was, were

Origin of be2

Middle English, Old English, unstressed form of by

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Word History and Origins

Origin of be1

Old English bēon ; related to Old High German bim am, Latin fui I have been, Greek phuein to bring forth, Sanskrit bhavati he is

Origin of be2

Old English be- , bi- , unstressed variant of by

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Idioms and Phrases

  • let be

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Example Sentences

What 15 months in a federal correction institution will be like, according to a man who counsels to-be inmates.

But the current pontiff, for reasons one might fully understand, declined to meet the would-be papal assassin.

The would-be pope killer loves to be in front of the cameras, and the press in Italy is happy to oblige.

Apparently, Shakespeare coined 1,700 words, from the frequently used (excitement) to the should-be-more frequently used (spewed).

In the years to come, Wha became a legendary starting out spot for various soon-to-be rock stars.

"Buy something for your wife that-is-to-be," he said to his grand-nephew, as he handed him the folded paper.

Everything showed a rapid flight; even the would-be dinner of the guerrillas was found half cooked.

Next night at dinner I proposed Sir Alister's health, and we all drank to him and his "bride-to-be."

While a one-step was in full swing some would-be wag suddenly turned off all the lights.

And hand-painting it allus seemed to me, is really elocution in oils; for a be-yutiful picture is a silent talker.


Definitions and idiom definitions from Unabridged, based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

Idioms from The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.