[ bee; unstressed bee, bi ]
/ bi; unstressed bi, bɪ /
verb (used without object), present singular 1st person am,2nd are or (Archaic) art,3rd is,present plural are;past singular 1st person was,2nd were or (Archaic) wast or wert,3rd was,past plural were;present subjunctive be;past subjunctive singular 1st person were,2nd were or (Archaic) wert,3rd were;past subjunctive plural were;past participle been;present participle be·ing.
to exist or live: Shakespeare's “To be or not to be” is the ultimate question.
to take place; happen; occur: The wedding was last week.
to occupy a place or position:The book is on the table.
to continue or remain as before: Let things be.
to belong; attend; befall: May good fortune be with you.
(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.
(used as a copula to introduce or form interrogative or imperative sentences): Is that right? Be quiet! Don't be facetious.
auxiliary verb, present singular 1st person am,2nd are or (Archaic) art,3rd is,present plural are;past singular 1st person was,2nd were or (Archaic) wast or wert,3rd was,past plural were;present subjunctive be;past subjunctive singular 1st person were,2nd were or (Archaic) wert,3rd were;past subjunctive plural were;past participle been;present participle be·ing.
(used with the present participle of another verb to form the progressive tense): I am waiting.
(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.
(used with the past participle of another verb to form the passive voice): The date was fixed. It must be done.
(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) present singular 1st person am,2nd are,3rd is,present plural are;past singular 1st person was,2nd were3rd was,past plural were.
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?”
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Origin of be
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”); see am, is, are1, was, were
grammar notes for be
WORDS THAT MAY BE CONFUSED WITH bebe , bee
Definition for be (2 of 6)
Definition for be (3 of 6)
a native English prefix formerly used in the formation of verbs: become, besiege, bedaub, befriend.
Origin of be-
Middle English, Old English, unstressed form of bīby1
Definition for be (4 of 6)
Definition for be (5 of 6)
bill of exchange.
Definition for be (6 of 6)
Bachelor of Education.
Bachelor of Engineering.
Bank of England.
bill of exchange.
Board of Education.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021
British Dictionary definitions for be (1 of 7)
/ (biː, unstressed bɪ) /
verb present singular 1st person am; 2nd person are; 3rd person is; present plural are; past singular 1st person was; 2nd person were; 3rd person was; past plural were; present participle being or past participle been (intr)
to have presence in the realm of perceived reality; exist; liveI think, therefore I am; not all that is can be understood
(used in the perfect or past perfect tenses only) to pay a visit; gohave you been to Spain?
to take place; occurmy birthday was last Thursday
(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)
(takes a present participle) forms the progressive present tensethe man is running
(takes a past participle) forms the passive voice of all transitive verbs and (archaically) certain intransitive onesa good film is being shown on television tonight; I am done
(takes an infinitive) expresses intention, expectation, supposition, or obligationthe president is to arrive at 9.30; you are not to leave before I say so
(takes a past participle) forms the perfect or past perfect tense of certain intransitive verbs of motion, such as go or comethe last train is gone
be that as it may the facts concerning (something) are of no importance
Word Origin for be
Old English bēon; related to Old High German bim am, Latin fui I have been, Greek phuein to bring forth, Sanskrit bhavati he is
British Dictionary definitions for be (2 of 7)
the internet domain name for
British Dictionary definitions for be (3 of 7)
the chemical symbol for
British Dictionary definitions for be (4 of 7)
bill of exchange
(in the US) Board of Education
Bachelor of Education
Bachelor of Engineering
British Dictionary definitions for be (5 of 7)
prefix forming verbs and verbal derivatives
(from nouns) to surround completely; cover on all sidesbefog
(from nouns) to affect completely or excessivelybedazzle
(from nouns) to consider as or cause to bebefool; befriend
(from nouns) to provide or cover withbejewel
(from verbs) at, for, against, on, or overbewail; berate
Word Origin for be-
Old English be-, bi-, unstressed variant of bī by
British Dictionary definitions for be (6 of 7)
British Dictionary definitions for be (7 of 7)
BE or b.e.
bill of exchange
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
Medical definitions for be
The symbol for the elementberyllium
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Scientific definitions for be
The symbol for beryllium.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Idioms and Phrases with be
In addition to the idioms beginning with be
- be a credit to
- be along
- be big on
- be bound to
- be busted
- bed and board
- bed and breakfast
- bed of roses
- be down
- bee in one's bonnet
- been around
- been had
- been there, done that
- been to the wars
- beginning of the end, the
- begin to see daylight
- begin to see the light
- begin with
- beg off
- beg the question
- beg to differ
- be had
- be in on
- be into
- bell the cat, who will
- be my guest
- bend one's elbow
- bend over backwards
- bend someone's ear
- be off
- be on
- be oneself
- be on to
- beside oneself
- beside the point
- be that as it may
- be the death of
- be the end of one
- be the making of
- let be
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.